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By Megan Bianco
The title of Fernando León de Aranoa’s The Good Boss 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-intended for once. Instead, we get a fine, though slightly redundant, satire on how a successful scales company owner runs his factory in smalltown Spain.
Within a two-hour runtime, we see how a week in the life of Julio Blanco (Javier Bardem) plays out before his industrial 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, young, attractive female employees at the factory, such as 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 his wife, Adela (Sonia Almarcha), has no idea how loose her husband’s morals and ethics are.
The Good Boss has a lot of relevant themes running throughout the film, including greed, cheating, nepotism, manipulation, and narrative irony. On paper, I think the script is quite good, and the characters de Aranoa has created are intriguing.
I enjoyed the lead performance by Bardem, who is at his best with morally gray characters such as Julio, and always seems to be having fun with makeup and costumes for elaborate roles. But the direction of The Good Boss is rather bland, and the pacing drags after a while.
I also feel as if the story didn’t really comment or lampoon anything on capitalism and businessmen that we haven’t already seen on screen before.
Again, 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.