Criterion Corner: Original Cast Album: “Company” (#1090)

In 2019 (remember that time, a hundred years ago?), I nursed something of a briefish obsession with “Being Alive”, one of the songs from Stephen Sondheim’s 1970s multi-award winning musical Company – and perhaps like many others, I first heard it in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story (2019), performed by Adam Driver. It’s perhaps something of an ironic use of the song: in Company, it is sung by the show’s central character Robert, an attractive but commitment-phobic man who, in the course of the song, comes to the realisation that he yearns for all of those things that make him shy away from an actual romantic relationship. In Marriage Story, the character who sings it is just coming out of a marriage via acrimonious divorce proceedings, and he mourns everything that he is in the process of losing. In spite of the very different contexts, however, the power of Sondheim’s song clearly comes through.

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