30. The Company Men (2010)

Needs more work

Directed by: John Wells
Written by: John Wells
Starring: Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones

Economic recession sucks. It sucks even more if you’re sacked because of corporate downsizing, have a family to feed and have to say goodbye to the swanky cars you used to drive. So I guess you could say Bobby ( Affleck), Phil (Cooper) and Gene (Jones) – three men at different stages of their life, holding different positions at a company called GTX – feel pretty sucky when they have to join the ten percent of the working population who aren’t actually working anymore. In fact, it’s downright depressing.

The Company Men finds drama in the concerns of the career-centred man by looking at how the loss of status within American upper middle class corporate hierarchy can challenge one’s perception of themselves as a capable husband, father and individual. But while the anxieties of the characters are made abundantly clear in The Company Men with a strong message about the value of humanity, the film unfolds in a rather mediocre fashion.

Well.. this sucks

Like a slow boardroom meeting, The Company Men discusses and explores the worries of unemployment repetitively, and in delivery, fails to excite or provoke in any way other than the tried and tested methods of unravelling your typical Hollywood drama. Despite the Academy Award winners who make up the ensemble cast, the performances aren’t enough to make this film compelling as the characters themselves lack a sense of distinctiveness without much opportunity to leave powerful impressions. One exception, however, is Bobby’s brother-in-law, Jack Dolan, played by Kevin Costner. In an effectively small role that makes Costner stand out, Jack’s unspoken kindness towards Bobby, as the humble owner of a small construction company, carries the idea that work and people should not be treated as simple economic chess pieces, with greater weight than any of the other characters.

Punctuated with some brief moments of humour, The Company Men does well in downsizing blatantly emotive lines or cheesy inspirational moments that may have been tempting to use in such a film. BUT when it comes to telling a story that is deeply involving and dramatically provocative – get back to work!


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