Rated R for language and brief nudity, 104 minutes
Relevant, affecting “Company Men” tackles a difficult subject
If you’ve ever been laid-off from a job, then “The Company Men” will hit closer to home than you want it to. The pertinent, well-acted drama tackles the issue of unemployment due to corporate restructuring; whereas last year’s “Up in the Air” told the same story from the people doing the laying off, this has to do with those being laid-off. Downbeat but fresh, “The Company Men” features a superbly talented cast in what was one of last year’s overlooked gem’s; some of it lacks a sharp, edgy quality to it but it’s certainly worth a look.
When the Boston-based GTX Corporation must cut jobs to improve the company's balance sheet during the 2010 recession, thousands of employees will take the hit, like Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck). Bobby learns the real life consequences of not having a job. Not only does he see a change to his family lifestyle, and the loss of his home, but also his feelings of self-worth. It also affects those left behind at the company to pick up the pieces, including disillusioned executives Gene (Tommy Lee Jones) and Phil (Chris Cooper), who are also at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives.
“The Company Men” tackles a heavy subject with an effective, sublime grace and poignancy. It’s no wonder the film has been overlooked, with so many out of work some audiences may not care to see something that hit so close to home. Directed and written by “The West Wing” producer John Wells, it shows how differently unemployment affects people and how remarkably attached to our jobs we are, it can make us or break us. It also has one of the best casts of recent memory, including Oscar-winners Affleck, Jones, Cooper along with fellow Oscar-winner Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Craig T. Nelson and Rosemarie DeWitt.
Of the large cast, Affleck and Jones, who work remarkably well together, are most effective (and sympathetic), and it’s also nice seeing Costner in a supporting character part (and decent Boston accent). The movie is slow-going in its mid-section and some parts of the later-going are a bit predictable, but it’s wholly believable and involving, with some parts downright touching. Wells’ approached is a bit scrubbed and too clean-cut, but then his view is primarily middle America.
Sure, it’s not exactly a crowd-pleasing subject, but give the winning “The Company Men” a shot, it’s one of the year’s most affecting films.