You know that feeling you got during the downsizing sequences in Up in the Air — the dread, empathy, and outrage mixed with the chilling sensation that anyone could be next, including you? That's the feeling that extends to every minute of The Company Men, a shrewd, timely, and terrifically engrossing drama of white-collar reckoning that marks the feature directorial debut of writer-producer John Wells (ER). The movie is about the executives who pigged out on the capitalist gravy train — the men swimming in stock options and $500 lunches.
Why, you may ask, should we give a damn if they lose their jobs? Have no fear: That skeptical class resentment is built right into the film. The Company Men is all too aware that the smugly gilded corporate elites it depicts are, in fact, the very sort of self-invested, short-term-profit players who helped get this country into such trouble in the first place. As they watch their jobs disappear, we behold their suddenly fraught lives with a mixture of sympathy and schadenfreude. The message might be: Greedy, scum-sucking corporate parasites are people too.
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