Film ratings

The Good Boss Movie Review – Javier Bardem Is Greatly Magnetic In Spanish Corporate Satire

We are often asked to pity Julio Blanco (Javier Bardem), the captain of industry at the center of teasing Spanish satire The good boss. Typically, the invitation comes from Blanco himself, owner of a high-end manufacturer of industrial scales. The company is like a family, he tells his staff. And like any head of family, it saddens him when his children leave. The female trainees, for example, in whose well-being he sometimes takes a particular interest. Or now dismissed employees, whose exits he finds so upsetting that he prefers not to see them. “Goodbyes are really hard,” he says.

No, the comedy concocted by writer-director Fernando León de Aranoa is not subtle. There is also no reason for the film to last two hours. But for all the baggy and over-the-nose symbolism, it can also display a finely calibrated understanding of stuffing. As de Aranoa gets to work, an intern and a laid-off worker become twin accelerators in a flammable mix that also includes Blanco’s see-no-evil wife, a loyal servant with a delinquent teenage son, and a co-worker of long in crisis. A timer is attached to the lot by a pending visit from the judges of a Business Excellence Award.

As an anti-capitalist screed, the sharpest beards are almost disposable (the film casually notes that Blanco’s self-made man inherited his father’s factory). Business leaders would be entirely justified in asking what experience filmmakers have in their lives to mount such a sweeping attack. On the other hand, they happen to be embodied by a grandiosely magnetic Bardem. Some might call it fair trade.

★★★☆☆

On Curzon Home Cinema and in UK cinemas from July 15