More Money Means More Problems In “The Company Men”

By: Matthew Liedke

MSUM Journalism

With public anger over the financial meltdown of 2008 directed at corporate executives, it may seem unfeasible to make a movie that makes an audience feel sorry for them. However, “The Company Men” manages to pull it off.

The film follows the story of three men working for a large company, Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck), is a man waiting on a promotion and raising a family. Gene McCarly (Tommy Lee Jones), a supervisor trying to keep his workers in the middle of the recession, and Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper), a man working under Gene who is worried about the recession.

When the company begins downsizing, Bobby is immediately let go and has to begin his search to find a new job. Meanwhile Gene tries to have integrity and defend the workingman in a business that is becoming more and more about the stockholders and Phil is kept on edge as more and more people around him are let go.

Story shows what many Americans are going through.

“The Company Men” is extremely engaging and emotional right from the start. The film balances what it’s like to be in a competitive job market whether you’re young or old and how people of integrity are becoming the old guard at many companies that are only concerned with how to make a bigger profit.

The pacing is fantastic. The film never slows down and it balances the story of the three men very well. The audience has time to become attached to all of the characters that deal with their individual trials.
Audience members can relate to these characters as well. Bobby represents what it’s like to be a person looking for a job with little success while knowing that people are depending on you, Phil shows how scary it can be for older people to enter an evolving job market and Gene shows what it’s like to be an executive who is at odds with his peers.

It was great to see this system of film making work by following three characters whose paths intersect. The recent film “Hereafter” directed by Clint Eastwood shows how following three characters in a film can go wrong. However “The Company Men” gets it completely right.
Oscar powered cast shines in film.

I didn’t have a quarrel with any single performance in this film.  Ben Affleck has been building a great streak lately with his other recent film “The Town” and now this. Watching the film an audience can really see how far Affleck has come. In the ‘90s, Affleck was an actor who you would see in a role, but would still see Affleck instead of the character. That has completely disappeared with Affleck really getting into the character and showing a lot of emotion.

The one who really steals the show though is Tommy Lee Jones who was absolutely brilliant in the picture. This is probably one of Jones’ best performances and can be held up with his roles in “No Country for Old Men” and “The Fugitive.” Chris Cooper is strong as well; playing a very sad role. The emotion comes through heavily and he made the character very easy to get invested in. Kevin Costner was also in the film as Affleck’s brother-in-law, however the role is not that large. Despite this, the performance is well done.

Characters have flaws despite being performed well.

One of the only flaws that make it difficult for people to enjoy is the luxurious lifestyle that these people were living before the recession hit. All the characters in this film own nice cars, beautiful homes upwards of $800,000, and memberships at fancy golf courses. This at times does make it difficult to feel sorry for the characters when you think of some of the irresponsible spending that these characters were doing. Fortunately, this is largely avenged when we get deeper into the minds of these characters and they begin to show their true colors.

Strong performances and plot leads to high rating.

Overall, “The Company Men” is a very good film. The ensemble is incredibly powerful and can keep the audience invested throughout the entire picture. Despite my small flaws with the characters at times, I still believe that they were well done. I highly recommend seeing this whenever you get a chance. Four out of Five.

Tommy Lee Jones and Ben Affleck in “The Company Men”

The Company Men is showing at the Fargo Theatre at these times:

Fri – 5p.m., 7:15p.m., 9:40p.m.

Sat & Sun – 12:30p.m., 2:45p.m., 5p.m., 7:15p.m.

Mon-Thurs – 5p.m., 7:15p.m.

Edited by Mark Radcliffe (Senior Mass Communications Ad/Pr)

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