Posted: 06/05/2011


The Company Men

by Del Harvey

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Anchor Bay Entertainment and The Weinstein Company announced today the Blu-ray™ and DVD release of THE COMPANY MEN from multi-Emmy® winning writer/director John Wells (“ER,” “The West Wing”). An uplifting and perceptive motion picture about corporate downsizing, THE COMPANY MEN stars Academy Award® winners Ben Affleck (GOOD WILL HUNTING), Chris Cooper (ADAPTATION), Kevin Costner (DANCES WITH WOLVES), and Tommy Lee Jones (THE FUGITIVE). THE COMPANY MEN heads to retail on June 7, 2011.

The Company Men will get to you. It’s a very upsetting film, no matter whether you’re one of those who has been hit by the recession (and who hasn’t) or one of those CEO’s who helped cause it. Is this a good thing? It is not only good, it is the kind of thing more films should do.

John Wells’ script and direction offer up a very spot-on take on the current state of affairs in this country. Some of it comes through subtly, such as a minor moment when Tommy Lee Jones’ character is trying to get his old business lieutenant’s head out of an afternoon drunk at the bar and he suggests they go to a matinee; “Surely they still have matinees in this country.” Or much less subtly, when one of the laid off takes their own life out of the simply ennui of the situation.

This film is all about real life, about the anguish and pathos of what passes for daily existence in this country ever since the banking crisis, or recession, or whatever you want to call it. It is about the rampant greed of the executive, the boardroom, and the corporation. And it is about the common man and woman and their struggle to continue to believe in a nation which has done everything possible to destroy that belief.

In addition to the obvious stars of the film, it is also the minor roles which help make this film truly what it is. Which give the story its depth and realism. Actors like Craig T. Nelson portraying the slimy CEO of a major shipping company. He rose through the ranks along with his fellows, all of whom work for him now, and all of whom lose their jobs thanks to his obsessive desire to boost share ratings high enough so the firm may be bought out and he can sell his stocks off while they’re hot. His self-concern is so overwhelming that he forgets what made the company great, even during past recessions when the company was able to withstand great stress and crisis.

And representing the common man is Kevin Costner as Ben Affleck’s brother-in-law, a man who runs his own construction company and who makes his living by his hands and his wits. He goes out on a ledge for family and friends, and does his best for his customers and believes in everything that makes humanity strong and gives us all hope. He is a symbol for what is right in this society, and even he loses something in the process of helping those he loves.

The women in this film do not get the praise they so richly deserve - which is quite common in the film industry. It is still a man’s world, and any young woman who does not recognize how much the cards are stacked against her may not truly have her eyes open.

Most prominent among the actresses in this film are Maria Bello (THE COOLER and the upcoming BEAUTIFUL BOY) as the HR lackey who carries out Craig’s every desire, no matter who gets hurt. She comes off as scheming but vulnerable; a very difficult portrayal for any actor, but in the hands of Ms. Bello, beautifully done. And on the opposite end of the spectrum as Affleck’s long-suffering wife is Rosemarie Dewitt (RACHEL GETTING MARRIED). She is great as the Boston-tough woman who helps her husband in spite of himself and who does so out of love as much as for the survival of her family.

The film’s characters and their circumstances are captured in breathtaking detail by Academy-Award® nominated cinematographer, Roger Deakins (TRUE GRIT, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN).

The THE COMPANY MEN Blu-ray™ and DVD bonus features include an Audio Commentary with writer/director John Wells; “The Making of The Company Men” featurette; and Deleted Scenes.

The Company Men is a very timely film, and most compelling. Don’t miss it.

Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.

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