Fernando León de Aranoa new film kicks off UW Cinematheque’s annual collaboration with campus partner, LACIS, on January 27, at 7 p.m.
In Fernando León de Aranoa’s The Good Boss, Blanco Scales is up for a regional business award. The owner (Javier Bardem) and the business that bears his name are one, and he will stop at nothing to project the image of a benevolent, civically minded pillar of the community. Manipulation, intimidation, bribery, adultery, and giving in to blackmail are all deemed necessary.
Bardem sports a shock of white hair reminiscent of his Skyfall (2012) antagonist Raoul Silva, though Blanco is more practiced at hiding any potential villainous tendencies behind a smile, a firm handshake, and plenty of rhetoric about fairness and how his company is “like a family.” Of course, he conveniently ignores both the rigid hierarchy implied by such a statement, as well as the unique capacity family has to hurt and exploit its most vulnerable members, as any manager who’s used that phrase does.
Case in point: Miralles (Manolo Solo), Blanco’s shipping manager and childhood friend, is continually ordering the wrong parts, thus making it impossible for the factory to fulfill orders on time. Miralles confides in Blanco that he hasn’t been sleeping, because he suspects his wife Aurora (Mara Guil) of cheating. Blanco takes it upon himself to ask her to stop the affair until at least the end of the week, after the award inspection committee has stopped by.
Leading up to the official inspection, this is just one of many fires that Blanco tries to stomp out, as he maintains his balance in a madcap comedy reminiscent of Billy Wilder’s One, Two, Three (1961). The Good Boss delivers laughs, showing how far Blanco is willing to go to maintain the appearance of being upright while ultimately raising fair points about how modern capitalism has become more inclusive by giving the most craven of individuals the opportunity to rise by stepping on the necks of their fellow workers.
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