The Good Boss offers a mannered approach to the self-destructive character study; separating it from similar company pitched in a much more frantic, anxiety-inducing tone (Nose to Tail, Uncut Gems).
Academy Award winner Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men) stars as a determined business owner in Fernando León de Aranoa’s film (which de Aranoa wrote and directed, as he did with A Perfect Day and Loving Pablo – the latter reunites the filmmaker with Bardem). As Blanco, Bardem terrifically conveys the selfishness that exists behind feigned interest towards the wellbeing of his coworkers. Blanco is only concerned about winning an award for his company, and he’s worried that the barely-confined behaviour of former and current employees will rock the boat too much. To keep everyone at bay, Blanco abuses the trust he’s built with individuals and involves himself in their personal matters. He blatantly (and humourously) contradicts himself for the sake of his ego. While the movie never truly pushes Blanco towards challenging areas for Bardem or the audience to sink into, the character is an interesting train wreck to watch on a surface-level basis.
Dialling down the stressful aesthetics does work in The Good Boss’ favour, which matches the straight-laced workplace and conservative politics of Blanco’s scale manufacturing business. But, de Aranoa’s movie is working against a drawn out pace that only belabours the attitudes and choices of its characters. The movie thrives when viewers are watching a buffoon in power sidestep around his own values to fulfil his own obsession for success, but it feels like an affair that breaks out between Blanco and a beguiling marketing intern, Liliana (Almudena Amor), is an unnecessary added stake in de Aranoa’s story; although it does have an amusing albeit rote payoff.
If de Aranoa had dropped the flawed romance, he may have had a tighter film on his hands. Nevertheless, The Good Boss is still entertaining.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie