There is nothing scarier than the thought of losing everything that you have ever worked for. You wake up one day, go into work only to find your that you’re no longer needed, then search endlessly for a job that’s just not there, lose your house, your car and have to start your life all over again. This is not only the subject of The Company Men, but it’s also the reality that most Americans are facing today. It’s what makes The Company Men so great, there is nothing else that grabs a person’s attention more than relevance and this film’s relevance feels like a smack in the face.
The Company Men follows the lives of three men at different aspects of this life-changing moment. Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is a 37 year old family man that went from being a high paid white-collar star to carrying drywall at a construction site so his family could eat. Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) may have a little more hope than Bobby, but he’s not far off. While he still has a job he can feel the end just around the corner. Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones) looks the best out of the three as financially he has nothing to worry about. The only problem is he has a conscious and morals that hold him back from enjoying the rising stock points. It’s the intertwining story of all these men and how they deal with their company’s financial down turn that is The Company Men and while it is an every day reality it’s still something a lot of us choose to ignore. The thought that “none of this will ever happen to me” keeps us asleep at night even though it could be the reality we wake up to.
While this reality is one of the things that makes The Company Men so good it’s the delivery from all it’s cast that makes it so great. There is not one performance that is lacking in this film. Everyone from Ben Affleck to Keven Costner deliver everything the film needs and you can tell they believe in the film that they are making. While everyone was raving about The Town last year it’s in The Company Men that Affleck shines, as Bobby Walker he is required to show a magnitude of emotional range and in this he succeeds on all levels. Along side Affleck it was a relief to see Tommy Lee Jones again, the gaps between his films is feeling larger and larger but when he does choose a film it was like he never left. There is just something about the emotional range Jones can emote in his weathered face that feels like home. Just watching him think about the situation at hand is entertaining, maybe in his next role he won’t speak and just think about the movie your watching. Well, a guy can only hope. The film required both Affleck and Jones to show a dramatic change in character and by the end of the film I couldn’t imagine anyone else doing it better. If you are on the fence about this film I would suggest you see it on the merit of their performances alone and stay to be surprised by the actors that surround them.
The Company Men brings news statistics to life and puts you face to face with the people it effects. I know that maybe a turn off, no one wants to walk out of a film feeling down and thinking about reality, but some times it’s worth the shock. At the end of the day a movie is meant to entertain, to be an escape from your everyday routine, but sometimes a movie is supposed to point out what we maybe too prideful to say ourselves. When a film comes around that can entertain but also make you think about your own lot in life it makes me proud to love a film and it makes me realize that some movies are trying to do a little more than numb your mind. These are the kinds of movies that we should rush out to see, the ones that put their finger on the pulse and don’t let go. They’re not about your childhood collectors items, they’re not about the odd and bizarre, they’re about life and how the life you live can be more worth your time than a masked avenger.
I give The Company Men 4 “the shark in JAWS” out of 5
by Ryan Davis