What writer and director John Wells has delivered is a honest and bleak look at unemployment. It might not sound like much of a theme for a film, but he’s done a pretty good job in all areas.
Although when you watch The Company Men free the story circles around three characters played by Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones, the film’s main attention point is on Ben Affleck’s character, Bobby, who plays the young cocky hot-shot sales exec for a ship building company. Chris Cooper plays the older version of Affleck, Phil, someone who has been in the game a lot longer and comes from humble beginnings, as we are constantly reminded of. Tommy Lee Jones is the peace seeking, idealistic VIP type exec at the top of the company. He’s a bit of a boozer, distanced from his wife and sleeping with a young HR representative.
It’s through the eyes and life of these three men that we watch the different sides of the economic crisis as the company makes cuts. Bobby is first to go and fears the worst for his family. First he’s optimistic about finding a new job and then discovers that things are no longer as easy as they once were. Soon the mortgage is late and they have to sell the house, in order to make ends meet, Bobby has to take a job offer with his blue-collared brother in-law played by Kevin Costner. There he learns the values of hard work.
Phil is worried about loosing his job and doesn’t know what he will do if he does eventually loose it. He seems to worry more about loosing his job than actually doing it. He knows that it will hit his family hard and be much harder to find a job in this day, simply because of his age. He’s pushing mid-fifties and things are not good out there if you are looking old and tired. He has reassurances from Gene that he will keep his job. Meanwhile Gene is fighting the big fight upstairs in the lush corporate offices. The company is leaking money and continues to make lay-offs in order to look good for their share holders. Gene does not like the idea of laying people off. He knows that now is the time to hold on to them, but his voice falls on deaf ears.
John Wells delivers a wide eyed view on the crisis and how it affects everyone in different ways, it is clear what he’s trying to show – a point of view on the way we live when we feel comfortable and how drastically it changes when it all comes crumbling down around us.
Each performance in The Company Men watch online deserves an award, especially Affleck. It seems that as he is getting older, he sure is getting wiser. Steering well clear of rom-coms and right into the open arms of hard hitting drama. His portrayal of Bobby as the father-who-didn’t-give-shit turning into the-greatful-and-best-father-in-the-world is one that might just pick up some award buzz and if t doesn’t, it should.
Chris Cooper is great as ever. When this guy gets angry you can feel the onslaught of screams vibrating through the screen and his mellower, calmer moments are just as powerful.
Tommy Lee Jones is going to get a lot of these old man roles now I think. He’ still a stellar actor and his puppy dawg dopiness schtick has yet to be beat, but it’s clear that Jones likes to get into a verbal conflict where he can deliver that wise old man speech. He tackles the material head on with no fear of what might be thought on the exit. Thankfully Jones is the type of actor who can come barging through the other side ready for more. It’s going to be interesting to watch him in Men In Black 3.
The supporting cast keep up, with one exception. Kevin Costner. It is when Costner is on screen that we realise that he can actually act and not just pick really bad projects. Costner has a natural, charming screen presence that is so familiar as soon as he enter on screen. He keeps it low and cool for the most part, but on occasions he opens up and we watch the actor we’ve been dying to watch again after so long. Maria Bello’s strong willed HR representative who also happens to be the bit-on-the-side for Jones’ character. We are never given an insight into her character, we are never let into her persona, for essentially she is the bad guy in The Company Men full movie and Wells knows better than that. I think that even though Bello isn’t stand out amongst the cast, she holds her own.
Roger Deakin’s cinematography is brilliant too. The film is very, very grey and with the depressing subject, any other cinematographer would have found it hard too breath any life into the picture, but Deakin’s does what he does best and each frame is perfect.
There are no twists or turns in the script and it runs its course to what some may say is an easy conclusion, but it’s a complete one. It won’t go down as the greatest movie in the universe, but so far, it’s one of my favorite films I’ve watched this year.