The Company Men is a great companion piece for Margin Call and Too Big to Fail, focusing on the 21st century fallout from corporate greed. It features geat acting from some of the most powerful actors working today, including Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones, both masters of the slow burn and the understatement. Craig T. Nelson and Kevin Costner also are excellent in supporting roles, doing perhaps their best work in years.
At first, it’s hard to have sympathy for Bobby Walker, played very well by Ben Affleck, who made $160,000 a year and bought a big Colonial house and a Porsche. When he is laid off, he initially assumes that he’ll be in demand and won’t be unemployed for long. From the male perspective particularly, the loss of a job is a blow to pride. Walker keeps the situation a secret and suffers from the embarassment of not being able to provide for his family. Gradually, he goes through the stages of grief, which are as typical after a job loss as after a death: denial, anger, bargaining depression, and then acceptance. The plot is generally predictable but the characters are nicely developed and brought to life perfectly.
So far, the lighthearted comedies of the 1930’s, such as My Man Godfrey, have not resulted from this recession; the artistic examinations of the times we live in has been fairly grim thus far. They’ve also been extremely well executed and have given a slew of great actors the opportunity to shine.