Have I been fooled by Ben Affleck and a producer of ER? Did I really just empathise with the big bad culprits of the recession? Although The Company Men may have gone down as fervently as a liquid lunch, it certainly repeated on me afterwards
The film reads like a who’s who of heavyweight comeback actors; Ben Affleck, who has redeemed himself through his directorial turn in The Town, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones. They’re supported by a ‘wasn’t she in…’ cast of sleeper actresses whose roles take a back seat to the operative title word; men. This sobering drama follows three men as they face being fired from their (obscenely) well paid job and their subsequent reassessment of their lives and careers. It’s a well constructed and likeable film that leaves you in wait of something bigger simmering underneath, even if that inkling is never fully realised.
As Rosemarie DeWitt’s housewife gatekeeps all things good and American (the kids, the mansion) Maria Bello doesn’t offer much more depth to their gender. Her successful exec exterior is weakened by the decision to have her sleeping with the older Jones, replete in black stockings.
The film never quite manages to impart any kind of moral lesson learnt. In fact, as Affleck’s character heads to Boston for an interview, the gloss and shine of the towering HQ only invites us to assume that he would happily do it all over again, just for another taste of sweet success. No matter what the price.
This timely film isn’t glamorous or inviting, in fact the town they live in appears pretty lifeless, allowing all the more space for their expanse of property and cars. Although the characters, particularly Cooper and Jones, are beguiling enough, and their tales sympathetic, the efforts of the filmmaker are still questionable. In a time where people staggeringly poorer than those in the film face an ongoing struggle, you have to question if the kind featured in The Company Men are really those in the most need of exposure.