With limited expectations I ventured into “The Company Men” because of the cast: Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner; male marvels appealing to all ages. This is a very good film depicting in Shakespearian proportions a tragic tale that many in today’s society are familiar with and have suffered through. We know these people and empathize with the agonizing adjustments they had to make after they had been “downsized” the twenty-first century euphuism for “fired”.
Ben Affleck is Bobby Walker, 37 years old riding high (or low) in his silver Porsche; beautiful mortgaged home in the suburbs, a scratch golfer; two children, fine wife, when he is expeditiously dismissed from his six figure position as head of a sales division of a major manufacturing company. Given a three- month cushion, full salary and a transitional office, a “holding cell” for the employable, unemployed; he witnesses the evaporation of the helium, the life source of his inflated ego; the erosion of confidence; the diminishment of his self-worth. Culminating in acceptance and the birth of a chastised, wiser man. Affleck is efficacious as the stunned jobless, rootless Bobby. He succeeds in balancing the tightrope between sentimentality and reality.
Tommy Lee Jones plays Gene, the corporate conscience; spars provocatively with his partner and best friend James (Craig T. Nelson) an advocate of the tough, bottom line, “take no prisoners” commandment: the company is king, the princes get the otherworldly bonuses. Their debates are antagonistic, turbulent, truthful, and add depth and substance to the film.
Chris Cooper, always exhilarating, is the sixty- year- old Phil; locked in the twentieth century corporate mentality; you work for a company your entire life, a marriage where divorce is anathema ; how you cope with the divorce is powerfully portrayed by a man whose dignity and self -esteem have been flayed, betrayed by the masters, once trusted, now castrators of corporate fealty.
Maggie, Bobby’s sensitive, wise wife is shrewdly and eloquently depicted by Rosemarie DeWitt. Maria Bello is Sally, the “messenger” or mistress of the “pink slips”; style and adroitness prevail as she delivers the life- altering, cataclysmic blows with alacrity and calm composure.
“The Company Men” is a fictionalized slice of what “The Inside Job” gives in nonfictional, scrutinized, didactic, perspicuous detail. They work well in tandem.