BEN AFFLCK TOMMY LEE JONES CHRIS COOPER KEVIN COSTNER MARIA BELLO
THE COMPANY MEN
This film offers a true all-star cast, with multiple Oscars between them, and a story that is especially important to the economic problems of the United States. Television director John Welles (The West Wing) takes this ensemble film and makes it into a movie that wants to be a miniseries; following the lives of different men who have been perfectly and brilliantly cast. While watching Tommy Lee Jones take on characters, I sometimes feel I could watch him all day long. The Company Men didn’t turn out to be an awards contender for The Weinstein Company, but it’s a good film anyway. Often times and in many ways, the film almost feels like a Hollywood consoling message to those watching who are in the same situation as the characters.
From top to bottom we see a once booming shipyard transport corporation begin to down-size to spare failing stock shares, letting go of vital members of the company to high ranking officials. The cut-backs begin with Bobby Walker (Affleck), who was sacked out of nowhere and called a redundancy after twelve years. His family must move into his parents' house and say goodbye to the many luxuries they enjoy. Another, Phil Woodard, (Cooper) who is near 60, doesn’t know how to begin looking for a job and begins to self destruct. The second-in-command and best friend to the company owner, Gene McClary (Jones), is finally let go because he was fighting more down-sizing. They all have to start a new life and cope with the changing financial environment. Not all of them will survive.
At times I felt like this was a movie peering behind the closed doors of many businesses affected by the recession, especially with Crag T. Nelson’s greedy company owner. The film doesn’t make everyone out to be a victim, however. For instance, Bobby takes half the film to push past his arrogance, sellhis Porsche, give up the fancy golf club, and understand that life has changed and you have to adapt to survive. Welles, who also wrote the screenplay, seems to point the finger at everyone, because some of the hardship these characters face is of their own making. The Company Men is to the unemployed as romantic comedy is to the spinster.
Affleck, who garners the most screen time, has the most material to work with because his character comes full circle throughout the film. Affleck once again proves he is a changed actor who is now serious about reviving his career. While not as memorable as his The Town creation, he is still the right everyman for this role. Jones, who hasn’t been on screen in a while, delivers his usually strong performance alongside Cooper who feels a bit typecast as the self destructive character. Costner is basically an afterthought in the film, but a resonating one. This is a movie with an important message of hope to those out there facing similar situations; it is emotional and seems to understand the shaky financial business climate.
Final Thought – Appropriate and led by strong performances.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Michael Woody