Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Company Men, dir/wr. John Wells, st. Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Maria Bello, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner

The Company Men is an engaging, low-key drama that focusses on the economic climate of the US in the early 2000s through the eyes of several employees of GTX, an industrial manufacturing company that begins to downsize in order to maximise profits. CEO James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson) takes home $20m while others lose their cars, homes and sense of self-worth. Plus ça change. Debut director Wells does a sturdy job in conveying the irrelevance of the Always Be Closing mantra in such uncertain and desperate times and there's a suitably maudlin if not a little saccharine score from Aaron Zigman that grounds the action in a palatable TV movie feel. The script could have done with a little more bite to allow this drama to tell us something more we haven't already discovered by watching The Smartest Guys In The Room or Inside Job and some may find it a little hard to muster pity for Affleck when he has to sell his soft-top Porsche to make ends meet, but it works as a snapshot of the human cost of the perilous times we live in. Costner gives a great little unassuming performance as Affleck's blue-collar brother-in-law and Nelson is quietly heartbreaking as one of the laid off who, resigned, cannot see a way out of his predicament.