Reviews by Joyce Glasser The good boss (July 15, 2022) Cert. 15, 115 minutes.
The ample irony is as unsubtle as co-producer, writer and director Fernando Leon de Aaranoa’s commentary on Spain’s changing demographic and social structures The good boss (Patron of El Buen).
Although more elaborate than Seth Gordon’s bad boss Movies tiresome to the lumbering nature of the problems confronting Javier Bardem’s eponymous midsize factory. Not so Bardem’s great achievement, as his gray-haired character resorts to political connections, solicitation, manipulation, deceit, lies, and even blackmail to win a prestigious award for Básculas Blanco, the industrial scales manufacturing factory he inherited from his father .
That The Good Boss is a dark comedy about how changing demographics (and human rights laws) are affecting the workplace in Spain begins with an uncomfortable racist heist in a park, which introduces one of the insignificant characters as he goes to jail is brought. The culprit’s father is Fortuna (Celso Bugallo), who sorts out the Blancos’ pool pump while they have breakfast in their pretty garden. Fortuna’s plea for his boss’s intervention results in the son getting a temporary delivery job for Adela’s (Sonia Almarcha) high-end clothing store run by Julio’s wife.
If Adela’s son’s presence deters customers, it’s a price worth paying, at least pending a vital inspection by a committee awarding a prize for outstanding business results. Blanco’s attention to detail extends to a symbolic weighing scale at the entrance to the factory, which is out of whack. He orders his disloyal guard Román (Fernando Albizu) to have it repaired. Since the problem with the scales is symbolic, it will never be fixed.
Blanco likes to present himself as the big-hearted head of the family and refers to his employees as his children. “Goodbyes are really hard,” Blanco tells a crowd at a “family” gathering. “Those who knew my father know that he was a just man. That’s why he made scales,” Blanco says in a disjointed rationale you know he’s used before. Blanco portrays the “farewells” — his euphemism for layoffs — as “part of the life process,” reminding staff that “we’ve taught you everything we know, and that’s a lot.”
If the factory is a family, then as a little foreboding would suggest, incest is rampant. When Blanco calls a selfless young woman named Victoria to the front “Goodbye,” she blurts out “I love you” before running off. Later, when Blanco flirts with a tall, pretty, and seductive marketing intern, Lilianna (Almudena Amor), and then tries to dump her, we wonder if Victoria wasn’t part of a pattern.
Then there’s production manager Miralles (Manolo Solo), who has slept with Blanco’s secretary Inés (Yael Belicha) but is distraught over family issues. He is distracted and causes problems at work because his wife Aurora (Mara Guil) is having an affair with Miralle’s Muslim rival Khaled (Tarik Rmili) and she wants a separation.
Blanco initially uses the carrot with Miralles, a childhood friend, inviting him to dinner and giving him time off from work. When Miralles proves heartbroken and his absence halts the production line, Blanco is forced to use the cane.
His appeals to Aurora fail when he tries to justify his meddling by telling her that their marital problems have become problems for the company. When Blanco tries the same approach with Khaled, he is told where to go. Khaled is ambitious but also proud and he knows Blanco need him in more ways than one.
However, Blanco’s most immediate problem is civil disobedience when fired employee José (Oscar de la Fuente) sets up a messy protest camp on public land just opposite the factory. He uses his two young daughters in press articles and local television news because of their emotional value. The inspection committee must not see the banners or hear José’s tirade through the bull’s horn.
A disingenuous call to the police also backfires when the police advise that there is nothing they can do as the nuisance is on public land and the girls are not being trafficked or abused as Blanco has suggested. Like the security guard, the police are also on José’s side in the class struggle that is developing into a class struggle.
Starting with the title and Blanco’s name, which means ‘white’ and suggests purity and goodness, the irony is explained. While the outspoken collaborators’ grievances, romantic entanglements and ambitions challenge Blanco’s ability to resolve them, we see the film develop and there’s not much suspense.
There’s also not much sympathy for the broadly drawn characters and predicaments. The characters are like symbols representing different challenges that a modern day EU boss has to deal with. Blanco learns the hard way that not all young women are as docile as Victoria. Blanco’s wife isn’t a pushover either, and her odd decisions in offering Liliana a sexy dress from her shop and inviting this attractive single woman to live in her home suggest she’s smart about her husband and might want to punish him .
But Blanco is such a powerful, hypocritical narcissist that it’s impossible to root for him either. Nothing he does is altruistic, and his regard for the welfare of his employees is as wrong as the loyalty he feels they owe him. This may be social satire, but it makes us so disgusted with all of the characters that it’s difficult to engage with the outcome.
Javier Bardem is great in this otherwise subpar social satire.
Source link Javier Bardem is great in this otherwise subpar social satire.