THE COMPANY MEN Home Video Review

Why "The Company Men" didn't receive a wider theatrical release is beyond me. It certainly may not be the feel-good movie of the year, but it is poignant and relevant, a film that will represent a part of history. In twenty years, the financial disaster of 2008 will be encapsulated through the experiences and despair that is emulated through these characters writer/director John Wells has created. Not to mention the amount of star power this thing is punching. With Ben Affleck coming off his acting re-boot in his own incredible drama "The Town" he possesses the right amount of credibility and cockiness to pull of this character while at the same time somehow managing to make us fee sorry for this character. In the supporting stories we see Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner, and Craig T. Nelson all dealing with the financial collapse in their own ways while two strong female performances from Maria Bello and Rosemarie DeWitt round out this complete story that may not offer escapism, but does teach us a lesson.

As Bobby Walker, Affleck plays a man who has become accustomed to excess in his life. When that is taken away from him because the company he works for is cutting jobs in order to placate their shareholders he is at first unsure what to do next. What is really interesting about the film is the way in which it shows the ripple effect this kind of loss has not only on the man that held the job, but his family, his friends, and everyone else that is able continue on with their day to day. To Affleck and his fellow employees that have been let-go it is almost an insult that others can go on so casually with their lives while they are suffering through this life-changing event. Internally, it demasculates a man, he is his job. It represents everything he is and all that he is capable of, for someone like Bobby who lives to brag about his golf score, this is a devastating blow. Even more so is the fact no one fought for him after he dedicated twelve years of his life to the company.

First and foremost is Gene McClary (Jones) the head of the division Bobby works for, and someone Bobby thought he could depend on. Gene himself is suffering with the ethical validity behind his best friend and current president of the company James T. Salinger's (Nelson) reasons for making the decision to cut so many people without any sign of guilt or second thought as to how it will effect those people. Gene has a loveless relationship with his wife as she seems present only for the benefits Gene's job allows her to take advantage of. This leads him to complicate things even more as he conducts an affair with Sally Wilcox (Bello) the woman assigned to composing the lists of those that are to be fired. Though more story than this may seem like one is asking for too much to cover in too little time. Even threatening to take away from the central story, but what Chris Cooper's Phil Woodward adds to the mix is the realization of just how far the feeling of disrespect resides in the human spirit. As Woodward, Cooper is at his best, digging into the viewers conscious with his desperate stares and depressingly hopeful pleads to employers. His realization his life was wasted on a company that valued him enough to let him go after thirty years is what validated this film as a strong, powerful piece of writing and acting that will resonate with so many people.

In the midst of all this Affleck discovers what it means to appreciate things again, even the value of hard work as he dips his toes into construction with his brother-in-law Jack. As Jack, Costner is the shining light of the film, offering the perspective of how kind of ridiculous this entire situation is. How messed up this world is when it comes to those who make what they really deserve and those who get paid because of the image they need to uphold. "Company Men" is a fascinating look inside the lives of a few men that go through a crucial yet somehow needed experience in their lives. It is a nicely paced drama that never really has the ability to drag and with enough talent on its roster to always keep the audience entertained and interested. It might have worked better and been given more room to expand on the stories of these men had it been set up in a different format, say a mini-series, but this is still a solid film and one that will require a peaked mind instead of the hope for escapism.