Dir: John Wells
Starring: Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Craig T. Nelson and Maria Bello.
The Company Men centers around three men who struggle with the aftermath of job loss, and company down sizing during the recent financial crisis. They each deal with the situation differently, but they each suffer from a loss of self worth and finding a place in the world. Those around them get affected as well, as they struggle to make ends meet.
The Company Men is a film that you would expect from the recent financial situation, and why not? There are stories to tell, and each person suffers differently. Losing your job and being unemployed is never easy, each person reacts differently. This film really shows that, and the harsh realities these men have to face because of it. The men in question are Bobby (Ben Affleck), Phil (Chris Cooper) and Gene (Tommy Lee Jones). Bobby and Phil are the ones who find themselves jobless, with Gene having to sit by helplessly and watch. He needs to re-evaluate his own situation, and nothing is particularly easy for any of the men. Their positions meant they could take care of themselves and their families. No job, leads to no income, no income means they will lose their property and assets. In a time where no one is hiring, these men have nowhere else to go and feel humiliated.
I felt that John Wells really showed the harsh reality here, each character responds in a natural way, and it really did feel like this was based off actual experiences. Bobby perhaps goes through the biggest character change, as he slowly begins to accept the situation he is in. Each character has their own flaws and faults, but you can’t really blame them for it. They are a product of their environment, and being cast out means they need to adjust and it is difficult. The one who perhaps comes off the worst is the head of the company James (Craig T. Nelson) as he sits back and still makes money while those who worked under him suffer.
Performance wise, it was very solid, with Cooper and Jones being the standouts. Affleck was fine, but he struggled early on. He seemed more at ease playing the nice guy, rather than the a-hole. Nelson however seemed to love playing one, and he did it rather well. Costner was fine for his small role, and he definitely tried to make something out of it. The script is smart and sharp, its emotional and just very natural. It is not hard to see that Wells really did his homework and that this was a personal project for him. His direction was great, and it helped that visually it looked stunning thanks to the great Roger Deakins as cinematographer.
This is a good drama, and something that fits in nicely on a Sunday afternoon. An easy recommendation, as I quite enjoyed it. Make it a double feature with Jason Reitman’s Up In The Air, as they both have similar themes.
The Australian DVD
Audio/Video: The video is a 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen presentation. Picture is great quality, very easy on the eyes. Audio is presented with Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0, sounds fantastic, very crisp and clear.
Extras: The DVD release will come with additional extras.
* Feature Commentary with Writer/Director John Wells – This is a very interesting and informative commentary, Wells gives background to how the film came about and getting the testimonials of actual people in the situations of the characters. He talks about how people came on board, the shooting, and changes that had to be made. Well worth listening to.
* Alternate Ending – The alternate ending differs slightly than the one used. Personally I prefer the way the film ended, and I am not sure I like the alternate version. It is interesting to see though, the other direction it could have taken.
* Deleted Scenes – They don’t really add anything new to the story and it is easy to see why they were left out.
* Making ‘The Company Men’ – This very insightful look at the film runs around 15 minutes, and it certainly adds more layers to the film. I had a better understanding about where the story came from, and the characters that made up the film.
* Theatrical Trailer
Thanks to Ben from MadMan for his support.