the Company of Men(SE)/B+,B
A fascinating low budget debut by writer/director
Neil LaBute. This very nasty tale told with a perverse relish takes place in the office
corridors of big business, where people are easily sacrificed to
When transferred on special assignment from their company, two
young executives make a pact to "get even with women." for the bad
treatment they have supposedly received. The proposal comes from Chad after listening to
Howard lament about being dumped by his girlfriend. Chad, a rung lower on the company's
totem pole than Howard, relates that his woman has recently moved out on him.
Once settled into their temporary business assignment, Chad finds
the perfect subject for their experimental torture, a deaf secretary. Both Chad and Howard
will woo the girl, divide her affections, play with her until she falls for one over the
other and then drop the big revenge bomb. Chad is as nasty as a jagged shard of broken
glass while Howard is too weak to resist the temptation to be more like than energetic and
better looking Chad.
Shot by LaBute is a naturalistic style on a tight schedule, there
is an intimacy about the film, almost making the audience an accomplice in the
nastiness. The deed and the filmmaking are both down and dirty.
.Chad and Howard compare
LaBute works very well with his
three principal actors. Aaron Eckhart gives Chad an icy edge. He's an attractive villain
that you never like. Howard as played by Matt Malloy is almost a victim. Malloy makes you
feel Howard's hesitation at every step. The remarkable performance is by Stacy Edwards as
dead secretary Christine. Not only is she a very sympathetic character, Edwards is so on
target it's hard to believe that she herself does not suffer from deafness. It's
interesting to watch her character change as the plot thickens and her realization in the
car in confrontation with Matt is nothing short of brilliant.
The DVD transfer is limited by the source material. With a
miniscule budget(supposed $25,000)and a break-neck schedule, the look of the film suffers.
It's not always perfectly sharp, but I tend to fault the source material. There is some
excess grain and colors lack pop. The sound is just fine. Columbia has delivered
the Company of Men as a special edition featuring two commentary tracks by cast and
crew. Everyone seems to have a lot of fun with the commentary and having so many
principals involved keeps the chat lively and informative.
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