In the Company of Men

Newcity Chicago

DIRECTED BY: Neil LaBute

REVIEWED: 10-27-97

The most powerful, uncompromising, unrepentant film of the year so far. Chad (Aaron Eckhart, handsome in a boldly neo-Aryan fashion) and Howard (nebbishy, easily misled Matt Malloy) are angry. They are not two 32-year-old men who would work in an office, but in an office environment. They do not talk, but interface. A low buzz of jargon to keep the meaninglessness at bay. Strong coffee. Long breaks in the toilet. But then a fracture in the routine. Stuck in a faceless airport-Fort Wayne, Indiana's actually-they compare notes on their recent disappointments in the arena of love and lust. "Somebody rejects me, a woman, it just makes me-ah!-I can't stand it." Grumble, grumble. Howard's hurt is less articulate, despite a broken engagement, but Chad fills in: "If we were in India, we could burn that fiancee of yours on a pyre in the village square. "All first films could earn the title of Kubrick's suppressed first feature, "Fear and Desire." "In the Company of Men" deserves it. LaBute speaks the unspeakable, thinks the unthinkable, and makes compelling drama of it all. This is not Adrian Lyne dandling the zeitgeist and telling it to cough-"Flashdance," "Fatal Attraction," "Indecent Proposal"-but a piercing drama delineated with keen moral intelligence. The brilliant, unrelenting nightmare about to be visited on their victim, on Howard, on the audience, shows us how shocking a first feature can be. This is not meanness for meanness' sake; this is a voice, fully formed, announcing itself in clear, bell-like tones. Skirt-staring, bottom-line-hugging, job-fearing middle-class white guys. Corporate communicators in their most malefic essence. Every kind of indignity comprises their day. "You can kill somebody just once," LaBute likes to say. "But in work, a relationship-you can torture them everyday of the week." In between their swinging-dick competition in washrooms, boardrooms, offices where bold humiliations are visited on interns, we see the siege mentality of corporate-speak. And we see love as a commodity that one man believes can be cajoled and coerced and bullied out of someone. A dissection of misogyny and evil, not just a taking of the white male pulse with a backlash tract, "In The Company of Men" is amazing work.

--Ray Pride

Full Length Reviews
In the Company of Men
In the Company of Men
In the Company of Men
In the Company of Men
In the Company of Men

Capsule Reviews
In the Company of Men
In the Company of Men

Other Films by Neil LaBute
Your Friends and Neighbors

Film Vault Suggested Links
The Twilight of the Golds
Windhorse
White Man's Burden

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