The Company Men

(2010)

Genres: Drama

Review: The Company Men

Transcript for Review: The Company Men

IGNATIY:
Our next film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival almost exactly one year ago and is now finally seeing a theatrical release. THE COMPANY MEN stars Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones as executives at a Boston-based company. At the beginning of the film, Affleck is laid off.

CLIP 1 – you have me

IGNATIY:
With his six-figure salary gone, Affleck must look for a new job, but he has few prospects amidst the current financial crisis.

CLIP 2 – I’m a highly qualified applicant

IGNATIY:
Jones was once the company's only employee. Now it's a multi-national and he is its No. 2 man, though he's distressed by the changes that have taken place.

CLIP 4 – honest wage

IGNATIY:
THE COMPANY MEN marks the directing debut of John Wells, a veteran TV producer and director. This workman-like drama is earnest and sometimes corny in the way it handles its subject matter, but it has a strong sense of setting, and though it doesn't always feel authentic, it never feels forced. As filmmaking, this is largely unadventurous, but Wells' basic directing style is sufficiently attuned to not only the characters, but also to the performers, to make it interesting.

CHRISTY:
Yeah, “workman-like” is a really good word for this. It didn’t really work for me at all, but it, no, Tommy Lee Jones is great –

IGNATIY:
Why doesn’t it work for you?

CHRISTY:
So we have individual characters who are largely types and never really fleshed out beyond that. I mean, I like that they’re looking at a different strata of who was affected by the economic crisis. And they’re not boring because they’re wealthy, they’re boring because they’re two-dimensional. I mean, Chris Cooper, who is great in everything, they literally have him throwing rocks at the corporate headquarters from the parking lot.

IGNATIY:
It is, at times, fairly corny, I’ll admit that.

CHRISTY:
Corny, yes, it is that, too.

IGNATIY:
And, and even the scenes where, like, Tommy Lee Jones is, I think, dropping pieces of ice into a glass to, you know, show the fact that his character is a little bit upset – things like that, but he is why I feel this film is very different from another movie that you and I disagree on, which is, which is currently out in theatres, I think, or it came out a while ago, which is RABBIT HOLE.

CHRISTY:
Right.

IGNATIY:
Because, in RABBIT HOLE, what I don’t like about it is that John Cameron Mitchell is not really attempting to connect through, you know, his directing to any of the characters. He keeps his distance. Whereas, even though Wells maybe has a lot less talent as a director, he still, kind of, attempts to use the film to show the world of the characters, so even if they are two-dimensional, it still feels like it’s their film.

CHRISTY:
Now, it feels like TV. It feels pat. Ben Affleck is a type. He feels arrogant. He’s entitled. He has his comeuppance –

IGNATIY:

No, he’s – Wells’ TV roots, I think, are very visible in this.

CHRISTY:
Right, Tommy Lee Jones is a type. Chris Cooper is a type, whatever. And then Craig T. Nelson is in it, and he’s the CEO and he’s like a two-dimensional jerk.

IGNATIY:
And, and Kevin Costner is also, kind of, a type, but at the same time, they’re performances are strong enough, and I feel like the film is, uh, attuned or in touch with those enough to make it still interesting to watch. I don’t think it’s a boring film.

CHRISTY:
Kevin Costner is actually really funny in this, and he gets to trot out that, um, bad New England accent from, uh, THIRTEEN DAYS, so that’s always fun.