The Company Men (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner11/03/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 104 mins

Engaging, well written drama with strong performances from a superb cast, but the absurdly privileged lifestyles of the characters do seem somewhat at odds with the point of the story.

What's it all about?
Directed by John Wells, The Company Men stars Ben Affleck as hotshot sales executive Bobby Walker, who struts into work at his shipbuilding firm only to discover that he's become the victim of an opening round of company-wide redundancies. Supported by his loving wife (Rosemarie DeWitt), Bobby tries to come to terms with his new life as he undergoes humiliating interviews and is forced to attend job-seekers' therapy classes.

Meanwhile, back at the company, co-founder Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) and senior executive Phil Woodward both fall victim to a second round of redundancies and take differing approaches to their situation, with Gene raging at greedy co-founder James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson) and Phil turning to drink and refusing to tell his family what's happened. At the same time, Bobby gradually befriends a fellow job-seeker (Eamonn Walker) and considers lowering himself to join his brother-in-law's (Kevin Costner) house building business.

The Good
Affleck continues his run of decent lead performances, though it's fair to say you don't exactly sympathise with him when he suffers the indignity of being kicked out of his golf club and there's a certain amount of schadenfreude involved in his early humiliation. Jones is his reliably grizzly self and Cooper is excellent as a man who suddenly finds himself with nowhere to go, while there's strong support from Eamonn Walker (providing nicely honed comic relief), Kevin Costner (please do more films, Kevin Costner), Rosemarie DeWitt and Maria Bello as the company hatchet-woman who's also Gene's mistress.

The Bad
The script takes a timely look at the devastating domestic effects of the recession as well as taking some angry side-swipes at the greedy business practices behind the cutbacks. However, the absurdly privileged lifestyles of the characters (Gene still has his millions, for example) make it harder to identify with the story than it might otherwise have been; by contrast, a far superior 2003 Spanish film (Mondays in the Sun) tells a similar story but the characters are working class fishermen rather than multi-millionaire shipbuilders.

Worth seeing?
The Company Men is a timely and engaging recession drama with terrific performances from a superb cast. Worth seeing.

Film Trailer

The Company Men (15)
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Content updated: 24/04/2019 11:00

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