One of my favorite films of 2010 had a brief, Academy-qualifying run in 2010 and opens nationwide this weekend.
The Company Men is beautifully and sensitively written, acted, and directed, and is an important and timely film for anyone who has been fired from his or her job and descended into fear and guilt.
Expertly and compassionately written and directed by John Wells (prolific executive producer and writer of such television landmarks as ER and The West Wing), the film follows three men (Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, and Tommy Lee Jones) who are fired from what they considered safe career jobs after the economy went south in late 2008. The movie delves into the psyche and home life of each man as they cope with the shock, shame, anger, and desperation that anyone who has been fired feels to their depth of soul.
The ad copy for the film is also very provocative and deeply resonant:
“In America, we give our lives to our jobs. It’s time we took them back.”
So many of us relate that to that line because we have blurred the line between who we are and what we do. Some of us have taken that misconception even farther by convincing ourselves that the way we do our jobs can make us more deserving of love. One of the great messages that emerges from The Company Men is that those who truly love us do so because of who are as human beings, not as a result of what we do to earn a living.
Having been fired several times myself, I was deeply touched by each man’s experience as he struggled to regain his self-respect and dignity. The Company Men illuminates the same playing field that Up In The Air did in 2009 but where that film focused on the people doing the firing, The Company Men focuses on the people who were indeed fired, and is full of love, compassion, and ultimately redemption. If you’ve been fired, or know someone who has (which covers almost everyone everywhere, yes?), The Company Men will resonate deeply and also give you hope that tomorrow is indeed another day.