I liked “The Company Men” more because of the weight of its real-life event that inspires it. Further, there are many relevant things I had had currently nagging in my mind nowadays that more or less, in sync with the message of the film and thus gave the film an enjoyable experience. Deftly constructed, neat performances from Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, and even Ben Affleck, I should think that for those who give a bit of damn to their work-life in general, should see this film. Who knows, a one, or two lessons might could well be plucked from it.
American dream. Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) lives in it. A USD160k job, a comfortable house in the suburb, a loving family, an improving golf handicap, and a Porsche. But as the financial crises slammed on, he was among the many that got laid off and gradually, but too soon to his liking, he has to give up his lifestyle to cope with the wake-up call. He is not alone. There’s Phil (Chris Cooper), nearly 60, who had it worse than Bobby because really, is there any company who would hired an employee at the dusk of his life? Tell me if there’s one. Even Gene (Tommy Lee Jones) who was a co-founder of the company, he got laid off as well. The film then wounds its story around these three characters with a slightly more weight on Bobby’s.
I understand full well that at this time of age, looking for a job, especially for one who only has general skills, or of more with a relatively unquantifiable skills of “management,” could be hard. The film captures such issue, obviously with a hint of exaggeration, with ease. How Bobby and Phil, even Gene with all his wealth had struggled with the sudden realization of losing your job. I personally liked the Kevin Costner character as he was the only one who actually possess a prowess beyond ‘general’ skill for he has an actual product to accentuate his skills.
On the other hand, I could relate very well with Bobby. All smiles in the morning, happily chatted with everyone, boasting about his improving golf handicap he had earned over the weekend, and *bam.* Suddenly, as fast as that, he had to pack his things, went home at noon and carry the grim news to his family. Not that I have ever experienced such an event personally but believe me when I say that I had prepared myself if such event befell on me although I’m sure I’d be scrambling and as confused as Bobby was in this film no matter how ready I am on such event.
Thematically, the film had the same vibe with “Tokyo Sonata” albeit in a much more warmer atmosphere. I’m also quite certain that some of the scenes were inspired from it. But overall, the film was deftly constructed. As a salary man myself, I could slip easily into Bobby’s shoes, suffers his fears as well as basking in his frustration, nodding in agreement for his desire to “look successful,” and hoping for him and his family to find a brighter end.
The film was also well acted throughout. Ben Affleck and Chris Cooper carries their respective weights with amiable ease. Chris Cooper had this simple and sadly beautiful garage scene. Tommy Lee Jones is at his usual grumpy self. I mean, when does he not? His waning age, though, was sadly palpable. A long years has gone by since “The Fugitive.” Kevin Costner had a pleasant extended cameo as the only working man that actually produces something instead of well, you know, pushing papers for a small upward tick of the stock’s price. Overall, it was a great watch and I, personally, took a few lessons from it. For example, you’ll never know when the storm would hit and therefore, prepare.
My rating: *** / **** – Easily relatable, deftly constructed and well acted. This story of men coping as they loses their job would rings true to many regardless of whether you had ever find yourself unemployed or not.