They say losing your job and trying to find another is one of life’s most stressful activities. Along with marriage, moving house and funerals, unemployment is right up there on the list of things to make your wrinkles surface and hair turn grey. The Company Men does a fine job of letting us know how stressful unemployment can be. Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper are all ‘company men’ who find themselves victims of job cuts made by the company they work for.
All three men experience the initial humiliation of searching for a new job less glamorous and on inferior pay than the one they were just released from. Cars are sold, houses are mortgaged and suits become more and more meaningless as our company men slowly lose hope of ever being able to hit those financial highs they once saw as routine.
One irregularity to be found in The Company Men regards Ben Affleck’s character Bobby, a family man who has just been released from his £110,000 per year salary. He is then offered another job but on a much smaller salary of £65,000 per annum. He rejects of course, yet then finds himself swallowing his pride to work on a building site for his wife’s brother (Kevin Costner) for presumably an even smaller wage packet. Why reject a bad deal to accept an even worse one?
The three men are sympathetic but irritating. These are grown men who have worked on large salaries for decades, yet one week of unemployment and they’re panicking over whether or not they can make the golf membership payments. Haven’t these guys heard of savings? None appear to be blowing wads of cash on fancy extreme lifestyles, so where has all the money gone? But as The Company Men isn’t based on fact, maybe a little irregularity can be accepted.
The Company Men is finely acted and directed, but lacks the sharp dialogue and sense of desperation that a film covering this sort of subject needs. Another film that revolves around men in suits losing their jobs is Glengarry Glen Ross, which is packed with witty dialogue, and more importantly, you find yourself suffering with them, you feel their pain. When they lose a lead, you’re right there with them. When Bobby is forced to sell his Porsche however, no tears are shed.