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   IN THE COMPANY OF MEN (1997) 

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CAST
Aaron Eckhart
Stacey Edwards
Matt Malloy
Emily Cline
Mark Rector
Jason Dixie

DIRECTED BY
Neil LaBute

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 97 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Drama


A festival circuit darling, this humorously evil tale of dating to destroy had me both captivated and repulsed. The premise is intriguing: two businessmen on a 6 week assignment decide to wreak havoc on the love life of some poor, unsuspecting woman as revenge for their downtrodden hearts. LaBute's take-no-prisoners attitude to the story makes it an intense journey you can't look away from. Eckhart and Malloy are brazenly brutal in their game of love. They play businessmen on the road to success who are tired of crashing and burning when it comes to romance. However, this is a game they both can't win and one of them will end up even worse off then they were when it began.

Chad (Eckhart) is a handsome, buff charmer completely dissatisfied with everyone and everything. He's determined to make sure that no one just slips by in life – except for him. Howard (Malloy) is more unsure of himself, always needing confirmation from Chad that what he's doing is the right thing. He may be Chad's boss, but it's clear from the beginning that he's not the one in charge. He initially dismisses Chad's little proposal, but in the end can't help himself. They're only in town for six weeks, so they won't really have to live with the repercussions of their actions. Their victim, Christine (Edwards), is a shy, pretty secretary who happens to be deaf. According to Chad, for their plan to work the woman needs to be desperate, the more wounded and pathetic, the better.

The film is broken out by week, letting the audience in on all their machinations. It doesn't take long for Christine to fall hard for Chad. He says all the right things and is so unassuming and charming. There's no way any woman would be able to resist him. Howard has also thrown his hat in the ring, though he has no real chance of competing with Chad. He's just too needy and desperate. Christine only agrees to go out with him because she's never been so popular and doesn't quite believe her luck where Chad's concerned. She's hedging her bets, but as time goes on she begins to believe she deserves someone like Chad and is too good for Howard. As the game progresses, it's obvious that Chad is pulling all the strings, which eventually break, leaving Howard in the dust – jobless, friendless and loveless. Not to mention what he does to Christine.


"Life is for the taking, is it not?"

Though this film has some funny moments, it is by no means a straight comedy. Only a total asshole would think what happens to these characters is amusing. The pleasure I got from watching this film is what I think everyone else does...you get to watch someone pulling everyone's strings, be as cruel as they want, and get away with it. Something that would be very difficult for any of us in the real world to truly accomplish. Now I know there are people out there who do accomplish this, which explains the proliferation of talk shows and is why this film leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when all is said and done. What makes it stand out is the unrepentant script and the intense performances by Malloy and Eckhart. Eckhart is malicious to a fault, yet some small part of you still likes him at the end. Not an easy feat. An unflinching reminder of the bastards among us, lest you become their next victim.



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