Out in the Public: Our Review of ‘The Good Boss’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - August 25, 2022
Out in the Public: Our Review of ‘The Good Boss’

Fernando León de Aranoa, on the surface, writes cheesy lines for his protagonist Blanco (Javier Bardem). “Balance is very important,” he says to Miralles (Manolo Solo) one of the department heads in the scale factory that he inherited from his father. But there’s something menacing about such cliches. That’s because he’s only giving Miralles that advice because a happy man makes for a happy worker. In other words, he only cares about Miralles and his other workers in relation to his bottom line. Or maybe it’s more complex than that, even if I wrote is still true. After all, why would he involve himself with a love heptagon that involves him, Miralles, and a few other coworkers and spouses?

The Good Boss, at least the way I am writing about it so far, sounds like an anti-corporate sex comedy, which it is in some way. There are scenes where he notices things while spying on Miralles’ wife Aurora (Mara Guill). And these stakeouts leads him to put two things with two other things. But there’s a strong B-plot that reinforces the anti-corporate side of things. He lets go of Jose (Oscar de la Fuente). But Jose decides to camp out in front of factory to demand his job back. Blanco is not backing down of course. He gets the police involved even if the police can’t do anything about Jose’s protests that happen to be on public property.

Blanco makes for an interesting character to portray, and Bardem captures the kind of boss that most viewers probably have experience working with. The kind of boss who calls his employees his family and does so with a smile that’s hiding something underneath. Going back to the love heptagon, two of those players include Blanco, his wife Adela (Sonia Almarcha). But a third includes his intern Liliana (Almudena Amor). His scenes with Liliana are particularly interesting because it shwos the opposite of Bardem’s range, flashy in his most popular roles. Here he uses more subtle expressions when Liliana and a few others dare to play him like he’s playing them. Bardem matches Amor’s energy of a silent assassin who does whatever it takes to ahead.

Leon de Aranoa’s film has some predictable gags. For example, there’s a scene where Blanco has a monologue. So of course, the guard (Fernando Albizu) he’s delivering it to isn’t listening to him. That predictability also comes with the visuals. The industrial scenes are pretty gray and some of the domestic scenes have the golden brown hue depicting a country in decay, if not transition. But Leon de Aronoa saves his film by throwing enough curveballs. Blanco makes plans and God, or whatever presence that is, laughs. He starts out with a company reflecting old Spain, where he and his buddies run things. But the film’s two hour time span depicts nine days that will change his life.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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