Monday, February 3, 2014
The Company Men (2010) [R] ****
Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is a regional sales manager for GTX, a shipbuilding and manufacturing conglomerate headquartered in Boston. Following the subprime mortgage meltdown and 2008's banking industry collapse and stock market crash, GTX is forced to downsize, closing poorly-performing divisions and laying off thousands of employees. Bobby is caught in the first layoff, and executives Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) and Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) soon follow. None of them are prepared for the impact on their lives, or on their families and friends. And none are prepared for the possibility that they may never again find a similar well-paying job.
Insightfully written and sensitively directed by John Wells, this is a compelling study of how the Great Recession has affected tens of millions of lives across the country in the years since 2007. Casting is excellent, and performances are compelling, not only by the leads, but by the supporting cast as well, especially: Craig T. Nelson as GTX's CEO James Salinger; Maria Bello as Sally Wilcox, HR Manager and Gene McClary's mistress; Rosemarie DeWitt as Maggie, Bobby Walker's supportive, level-headed wife; and Kevin Costner as Jack Dolan, Maggie's cynical brother and a remodeling contractor who offers Bobby a construction job. The film condemns the off-shoring of millions of living-wage manufacturing jobs, the use of downsizing to reduce costs, maintain profitability and keep the stock price up, the exorbitant salaries paid to today's corporate CEOs, and the lack of loyalty corporations show to long-time employees. CEO Salinger is clearly a symbol for Jack Welch, GE's former CEO, remembered for his classic statement: It's Friday, and I cut you a check, so we're even. This is not a happy film, although there is an encouraging ending. If you enjoy dramas about the cutthroat world of business, films like Wall Street, In Good Company, Up In The Air and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, then you will likely appreciate The Company Men.
Internet Movie Database
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=64, viewers=66)