I went into Fernando León de Aranoa’s new dark drama-comedy The Good Boss not
having seen the trailer and having barely any sense of the plot. Naturally, the title is quickly revealed to be ironic, rather than literal.
Call me boring, but I would have actually been more interested in a movie about the boss of a company who is legitimately, genuinely good and well-intentioned for once. Instead, we get a fine, though slightly redundant, satire on how a successful scales company owner runs his factory in small town Spain.
We see how a week in the life of Julio Blanco (Javier Bardem) plays out before his factory, Blanco Scales, gets a visit from the higher-ups at corporate. We witness how he refers to his employees at all levels as “family” and his “children,” even though he has no problem laying off workers without warning — such as the case with single dad, Jose (Óscar de la Fuente) — or sleeping with new, attractive female employees at the factory — like marketing intern Liliana (Almudena Amor).
As the seven days go by, we learn his generosity and care come with compromise and expectations on the others’ ends. And we learn that his wife, Adela (Sonia Almarcha), has no idea how loose her husband’s morals and ethics are.
The Good Boss offers many relevant themes, like greed, cheating, nepotism and manipulation. The script is quite good and the characters de Aranoa has created are intriguing. I enjoyed Bardem, who is at his best with morally grey characters such as Julio, and always seems to be having fun with make-up and costumes for elaborate roles.
The younger actors, particularly Amor and Tarik Rmili, are solid, and I like that Bardem is the only big name in the cast. But the direction of The Good Boss is rather bland and the pacing drags after a while. I also feel like the story didn’t offer anything new regarding capitalism and businessmen that we haven’t already seen on screen before.
The Good Boss isn’t a bad film, it’s just not a very unique or inspired one. This month we got a double dose of cynical movies with Adamma Ebo’s Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul on religion, and The Good Boss on business.
I’m kind of just ready to skip to the wholesome, late-year releases now.