This morning I saw The Company Men, starring Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones.
Bobby Walker (Affleck) is not a corporate asshole. Sure, his wife calls him one during a heated argument, and he does favor golfing and nice cars to the blue collar lifestyle, but at the end of the day he's a good guy. He adores his children, stays faithful to his wife and doesn't willingly try to harm anyone in his life's work.
His boss Gene (Jones) at the GTX Corporation is less of a good guy, but he does genuinely care about his employees and is incensed to learn that Bobby has been let go in his absence. He's even more pissed when it happens to him a few months later.
This is all the fault of the Big Bad CEO, James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson) who will step on anyone (even his best friend Gene) to "save" the company and his inflated salary.
An almost too-fitting film for our times, watching this felt like seeing Up In the Air turned inside out. Instead of the office side of the layoffs, we see the repercussions.
Each man deals with his loss in a different way: Bobby genuinely tries to land a new gig but the offers just aren't there. Phil (Chris Cooper) dies his hair to look younger (at the recommendation of a placement specialist), Gene goes into a state of denial.
If all of this sounds straightforward and predictable, it is, but I can't overstate how well it all plays out.
The families of the men define how they react, regardless of their pride; the safety net we all want to think is there for us collapses in a very un-movie-like way for several characters. Their pain, though difficult to watch, is refreshingly real.
The performances by Affleck, Jones and Cooper are nothing short of top notch. They aren't "too" Boston to be believable, but still capture the assumed manliness of that slice of America.
There are also great supporting stars here: Maria Bello as the devious downsizer, Rosemarie Dewitt as Bobby's practical wife, and Kevin Costner as the rough brother-in-law who dislikes Bobby, but still reaches out to help him.
I was glued to the screen from start to finish by this satisfying, honest film. Everyone who's ever been in dire straits (and that's all of us, I think) should see it.