In the Company of Men

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In the Company of Men
In the Company of Men.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Neil LaBute
Produced by Mark Archer
Stephen Pevner
Written by Neil LaBute
Starring Aaron Eckhart
Matt Malloy
Stacy Edwards
Music by Karel Roessingh
Ken Williams
Cinematography Tony Hettinger
Edited by Joel Plotch
Production
company
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Release dates August 1, 1997
Running time 97 minutes
Country Canada
United States
Language English
American Sign Language
Budget $25,000
Box office $2,856,622[1]

In the Company of Men is a 1997 Canadian/American black comedy written and directed by Neil LaBute and starring Aaron Eckhart, Matt Malloy, and Stacy Edwards. The film, which was adapted from a play written by LaBute,[2] and served as his feature film debut, won him the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.[3]

The film revolves around two male coworkers, Chad (Eckhart), and Howard (Malloy), who, angry and frustrated with women in general, plot to toy maliciously with the emotions of a deaf female subordinate.

Plot[edit]

Chad (Aaron Eckhart) and Howard (Matt Malloy) are two middle management employees at a corporation, temporarily assigned to a branch office away from home for six weeks. Howard is assigned to head up the project. Embittered by bad experiences with women, they form a revenge scheme to find an insecure woman, romance her simultaneously, and then break up with her at the same time. Chad, who is cruel, manipulative, duplicitous, and abusive to his subordinates, is the originator and driving force behind the scheme, while Howard is the more passive of the two, which leads to a later conflict with the scheme.

Chad decides upon Christine (Stacy Edwards), a deaf coworker who is so self-conscious that she wears headphones so people, thinking that she is listening to music, are compelled to get her attention visually or tactilely without immediately learning that she is deaf. Chad and Howard decide to each ask her out, and over the course of several weeks, date her simultaneously.

In the meantime, things with the project go wrong; a fax Chad is supposed to have made to the home office is "lost" and a presentation Chad is supposed to deliver to the home office is unable to be carried out successfully after some documents are allegedly printed so lightly that they are illegible. These mishaps culminate in Howard being demoted and Chad taking his place as the head of the project. Chad eventually sleeps with Christine, and she falls in love with him. When Christine eventually breaks this news to Howard, Howard tells Christine the truth about their scheme, and tells her that he loves her. Christine is shocked by the revelation, and refuses to believe that Chad would do this. When she confronts Chad, he admits the truth. Christine angrily slaps Chad, but Chad is unashamed of his behavior, and cruelly taunts Christine, who collapses into tears after he leaves her.

Weeks later, Howard confronts Chad back home at his apartment. Howard is now apparently in the bad graces of the company, having been moved to a lower floor, while Chad is doing well, and thus offering to say something on Howard's behalf. Nevertheless, Howard is not worried about work; he confesses to Chad that he really loved Christine. At this point Chad, despite having previously told Howard that his girlfriend, Suzanne, had left him, shows Howard that she is still there, asleep in his bed. Chad says that he carried out the plan "because I could," and asks Howard how it feels to have truly hurt someone.

Howard, who had never done anything like that before, leaves, horrified. Howard later travels back to the city and to a bank where he sees Christine, and tries to speak to her, but she looks away in anger. He loudly pleads with her to "listen" to him, but his pleas literally fall on deaf ears.

Themes[edit]

In the Company of Men features several themes such as retro-sexism and role reversals.[4] An example of role reversal is that in the beginning Howard plans with Chad to destroy an innocent girl, yet by the end of the movie Chad has "destroyed" Howard.[4]

Reception[edit]

The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.[5] At the film-critic aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, it has film 89% positive reviews among 54 critics.[6] The character of Chad was also nominated by the American Film Institute for their list of AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains, but did not make it into the top 100.[7]

Awards[edit]

Award Category Recipient Result
1997 Sundance Film Festival[8] Filmmaker's Trophy Neil LaBute Won
Grand Jury Prize Neil LaBute Nominated
1997 Deauville Film Festival[9] Fun Radio Trophy Neil LaBute Won
Jury Special Prize Neil LaBute Won
Grand Special Prize Neil LaBute Nominated
1997 Edinburgh International Film Festival Channel 4 Director's Award - Special Mention Neil LaBute Won
1997 National Board of Review, USA[10] Special Recognition for excellence in filmmaking Won
1997 New York Film Critics Circle Awards[11] Best First Film Neil LaBute Won
Taormina International Film Festival Best Actor Aaron Eckhart Won
Best Actress Stacy Edwards Won
1997 Thessaloniki International Film Festival Golden Alexander Neil LaBute Nominated
13th Independent Spirit Awards Best First Feature Neil LaBute, Mark Archer, Stephen Pevner Nominated
Best Female Lead Stacy Edwards Nominated
Best Debut Performance Aaron Eckhart Won
Best First Screenplay Neil LaBute Won
1998 Satellite Awards Special Achievement Award for Outstanding New Talent Aaron Eckhart Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 1998 CFCA Award Most Promising Actor, Aaron Eckhart

Most Promising Actress, Stacy Edwards

Nominated

DVD[edit]

The DVD of the film contains two commentary tracks, one with director Neil LaBute, and the other with stars Aaron Eckhart, Matt Malloy and Stacy Edwards.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119361/business
  2. ^ "In the Company of Bad". Miami New Times. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Why is everyone mad at this man?". Daily Herald. May 8, 2003. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "In the Company of Men". Sony Classics. 
  5. ^ "Festival de Cannes: In the Company of Men". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  6. ^ "In the Company of Men (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  7. ^ "The 50 greatest heroes and the 50 greatest villains of all time: 400 Nominated Characters". AFI. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "Neil LaBute's Revised Stage Version of In the Company of Men To Premiere in Chicago". Playbill. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  9. ^ "Director's `punch' is a hit at film festivals". Indianapolis Star. Sep 20, 1997. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  10. ^ ""Confidential"; "Fast, Cheap" Win Second Best Picture Honor". IndieWire. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "'L.A. Confidential' Wins Critics Circle Award". New York TImes. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 

External links[edit]