The Company Men
Rated R, 115 mins
Jason Reitman's romantic comedy Up in the Air
scored points with critics by touching on the fear and anger of America's unemployed, but this potent, entirely honorable drama by veteran TV dramatist John Wells actually delivers the goods, pondering the pain and dislocation of the new normal. Ben Affleck is a gung ho executive in the shipbuilding division of a heavy machinery corporation who gets laid off in a downsizing and is forced to move his family in with his parents; Chris Cooper is a 60-year-old veteran waiting for the ax to fall, and Tommy Lee Jones is the cofounder of the business, whose concern for the people being laid off in waves to maximize the stock price pushes him into conflict with his old business partner. Wells may strain one's sympathy by giving his narrative over to wealthy, white-collar men, but he also acutely renders the shame and frustration of capable, hardworking people suddenly forced to reassess their earning potential and aspirations in life. With Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Craig T. Nelson.