Synopsis: A story centered around three men and the way they manage the downsizing of their company and their families.
Release Date: January 21, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Set amidst the 2008 United States financial crisis, The Company Men focuses on three men from the same ship building company, a fictitious GTX, as they deal with the effects of downsizing. The film begins with archived news footage detailing the crisis juxtaposed against the spoils of wealth; setting the stage for the trickling down affect the crisis will have on the three main characters of the film. Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck) is introduced, a young hard-working and successful member of the GTX team who has the perfect home/family, a shiny Porsche, and an untouchable air about him. Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper) has spent nearly his entire life working for GTX. He is older and wiser than Bobby, and can see how the threat of being laid-off will prove disastrous for his family. His paranoia and fear evident from the first moment he appears on screen. Finally we meet Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones). The second in command he built the company alongside his best friend, James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson), and is now watching it being taken apart piece by piece as the good people who work for him are sacrificed to keep stock prices from dropping. Gene is the sympathetic company man as compared to his business partner James, the ruthless businessman. These are three very different men and the downsizing of the company takes them each on very different paths.
Bobby finds himself in a state of denial. Unwilling to give up the life he has become accustomed to he continues on with the assumption that he will find another job within a couple weeks and his family will not have to make any sort of changes. His wife is the more sensible and realistic part of his life. We watch them struggle through weeks, then months, and onto a year of Bobby being out of work. The once cocky man in a suit finds that he must make sacrifices he never imagined or wanted to make for his family. His road is an emotional one, and Ben Affleck gives a very good performance showcasing the change in Bobby as his spirit is nearly broken and the uncertainty of his future weighs heavy on him. Phil Woodward is the troubled soul of the film. Your heart aches for him when he goes to his post lay-off career counseling session and is told everything about him will keep him from getting a job; add it up and one thing is clear, he is too old. Chris Cooper does not fail to develop a great amount of empathy for Phil but Phil’s path is tragic and it is quite evident that he cannot find the strength to get through his crisis. Phil exists to display the disastrous effects downsizing can have on a man of his age and the film manages to convey it as bluntly as possible. The most interesting character ends up being the man on the other side, Gene McClary. Gene is a wealthy man who could have retired years ago. He is greatly opposed to the downsizing and has alternate ideas to keep the company out of the red while they ride out the economic turn. It is in Gene that the screenplay does not entirely blame the capitalist swine for Bobby and Phil’s fate. It is also with Gene that the possibility for a great future develops. The decision to make Gene the wild card, the man who still has everything even as he has lost his greatest achievement, but cannot make peace with how he inadvertently hurt so many is where the film gets its heart. The compassion and work ethic Gene has is of another era and generation. He is a remnant of the days company’s respected their employees and valued them. Gene may take on a bit of the savior role in the end but amidst all of the misfortune that has plagued so many in the film it is with great relief that we see some form of hope.
The Company Men paints an appalling picture of a failing economy. It emulates the idea that loyalty means nothing in business any longer and the bottom line is what drives decisions. The film also proves that not all is lost. With change, sacrifice, and adapting can come greater realizations about the strength of family and friendships, and changing business models. That a group of very qualified, smart people who cannot find jobs is not for their lack of trying. The situation is larger and runs deeper than just two men but it is in the home that the greatest amount of the aftermath can be witnessed. The Company Men gives you a glimpse into the homefront of those affected by downsizing and it may be sad and off-putting but it also resonates deeply, as it should with such subject matter.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): John WellsJohn Wells
- Producer(s): John Wells
- Screenwriter(s): Ben Affleck (Bobby Walker)Tommy Lee Jones (Gene McClary)Chris Cooper (Phil Woodward)
- Story: Craig Mathers (Conners)
- Cast: Gary Galone (Karlson) Robert FrazenRoger DeakinsDavid J. Bomba
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA