The Company Men (2010)

The Company Men

The Company Men attempts to portray the human impact of corporate downsizing as a result of the global financial crisis.

You may think this is going to be something akin to the The Pursuit of Happyness, where an average joe has some bad luck and ends up losing everything. Not so. Instead, this film tries to make us feel sorry for the rich guy - Bobby Walker - a sales executive who loses his extremely cushy job, with a great salary and benefits, and, shock-horror, even loses his Porsche.

The definition of poverty is relative. To much of the world, poverty may mean living on $1 a day, not having running water or proper sanitisation. To us in the western world the benchmark for poverty is entirely different. As was reported during the UK riots this year, the benchmark for poverty in the UK is not having a second car or Sky +. Surely that can’t be true?

The story is interesting enough and there’s a great cast, including Ben Affleck (playing Bobby Walker) and Tommy Lee Jones (playing Gene McLary), but if the Director’s aim was for us to empathise with Bobby Walker then he has surely failed.

There is something extremely unsettling about this film. I felt uncomfortable watching it. Oh look, rich people have problems too. Look at this poor guy, he can no longer afford his country club fees!

If you’re expecting to see the main character go through a lazarus moment where he comes back from the pits of despair and is transformed by the experience, think again.

Even at the end, when he finds work in a job where his salary is only half what it was before, there’s no real evidence that he has reformed his thinking in any way. The film ends before we can find out if he repeats the same capitalist excesses. For all we know, he may be just as much of an arrogant, wasteful arsehole as he was before.

By the way, do you think Ben Affleck’s agent has been instructed to only look at scripts that are set in Boston?