Aside from Jason Reitman‘s Up In The Air, Oliver Stone‘s Wallstreet: Money Never Sleeps and a couple of snooze-worthy doc’s, few filmmakers have utilized our current economic climate on the project-front. First feature-length writer/director John Wells takes a stab at a little social/economic commentary in his film The Company Men, starring Ben Affleck (watch interview), Tommy Lee Jones, and Chris Cooper. The film’s up for a nationwide release this Friday. Check out the review below…

The Players:

  • Writer/Director: John Wells
  • Producers: Paula Weinstein, Claire Rudnick Polstein, John Wells
  • Cast: Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Maria Bello, Rosemarie DeWitt

The Plot:

Bobby (Affleck), Gene (Jones), and Phil (Cooper) epitomize the extravagance of white-collar lifestyle. They’ve got the corporate jobs, the beautiful wives, the obnoxious sports cars, and five pairs of golf clubs. When a corporate downsizing leaves them jobless, they’re forced to not only face the new realities of American life, but to redefine themselves as men.

The Good/Bad:

  • Relevance: I’m generally an avid supporter of films with relevant, widely relatable themes. The message The Company Men promotes couldn’t possibly be more pertinent to America’s current “condition”. On one hand, this reemphasizes a powerful facet of cinema: a vehicle to spread awareness. However, it also, arguably, negates several of the central ideas behind the concept of entertainment:  distraction/amusement. This film is a harsh reiteration of the economic crisis that continues to plague most of America. So, in short, gear up for a reality check if you were expecting two hours of popcorn fun and Swedish fish.

The Good:

  • Leading Men: Very sharp, subtle performances by Affleck, Cooper and Jones.  It was perfectly easy for the audience to feel the weight of each man’s crisis – you didn’t feel as though you were watching actors perform, rather, human beings responding to tragedy.
  • Supporting Cast: The supporting cast was particularly strong – specifically the wives. Each represented a different stereotype: Jones’ wife was your classic gold-digging slag, Cooper’s was slightly aloof, and Affleck’s was incredibly supportive and encouraging. Casting these parts appropriately was critical. Why? Because the three correlating plot-lines intend to highlight a variety of family dynamics, and how each is impacted by the bread-winner’s “fall from grace,” if you will.
  • Themes: Regardless of your socio-economic standing, solid work ethic, a supportive family, and good ol’ faith matters most. I apologize if that sentence echoes a shitty Lifetime movie, but it is what it is.

Overall

I very much appreciated/enjoyed this film. Though there isn’t much to report other than good acting, a good story, and a good slap in the face for those of you who have yet to be impacted by the state of the economy. If you’re down for that, buy a ticket. Otherwise, see something a little more uplifting – like Yogi Bear!

Rating: 7/10

The film opens nationwide Friday, December 10th.

Will you be seeing the film?