Ben Affleck in The Company Men (2010)

Good Job Hunting

Many years ago I was a Company Man, I worked for a global corporation employing thousands of people around the planet and then all of a sudden it merged with another company and I found the shadow of redundancy hanging over my head. It wasn't a good feeling nor was when the day came when redundancies were announced and I found myself out of a job, a job which I had been pretty sure would have been there till I either chose to leave or retired. That wasn't the only time as a few years later after finding work with a smaller business I faced redundancy again and it was no better the second time around despite having learned many lessons from the first time. Why do I tell you this well "The Company Men" is a movie about redundancy, about three men of different ages and position within the same company being let go, as the polite term is for losing your job and it is a highly effective movie. It brought back many painful memories from my experiences with unemployment and is an eye opener for those who not only haven't faced unemployment but also to those who think it will never happen to them.

"The Company Men" focuses on 3 men all of which who worked at GTX in one form or another. The first of the men is Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck - State of Play) a young sales executive who lives the high life with his wife and children in their big house and speeding off to play gold before showing up at work. But then his world caves in when he is made redundant and whilst confident he will get work quickly discovers that things in the real world are not that easy. With mounting money worries and the realisation that a top job isn't going to come he finds himself asking his brother-in-law who runs a construction company for work having spent most of the time looking down his nose at him.

Tommy Lee Jones in The Company Men (2010)

Then there is Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper - The Kingdom) who having started work on the factory floor has worked his way up to management and can't go back. Knowing that redundancy is going to be hard Phil finds it even harder than he expected as he faces going up for the same jobs as those much younger and more qualified than him. Plus there is Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Elah) who was with the company right from the start when James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson) set up GTX and has been in charge of one of the arms of the business. But when Gene is let go he becomes disillusioned with the corporate world having got in to business to make something but ended up in an industry where the business is no longer a product but making money.

If that sounds pretty gloomy it is because "The Company Men" is a very real movie about the reality of life and being unemployed. There is a lot more to it than I have mentioned and we get various other aspects from pride of those having lost their job and trying to hide it from friends and family to the whole culture of unemployment and how it not only changes you but affects those closest to you. As I mentioned I have been through unemployment and this movie hits it spot on when it comes to that rocky road after losing your job, the confidence being ebbed away by knock backs and the sense of worthlessness when you realise that all you worked for has gone. I could go on because with "The Company Men" covering unemployment from 3 different perspectives it covers many avenues and all in a very real way.

Now obviously part of why this works is down to writer and director John Wells who has created not only a very real movie but a watchable one despite its gloomy tale. But the cast also make the movie and whilst the storyline predominantly focuses on Ben Affleck as Bobby the entire cast be it Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones and right down to Kevin Costner as Bobby's working class brother-in-law they all turn in perfect performances. This is a movie which seriously picked the right people for the right parts and that makes a world of difference.

What this all boils down to is that "The Company Men" is quite simply a stunning movie, well written, well directed and well acted with all these things combining to make an uncomfortable subject both very real and engrossing.