In The Company Of Men

Don’t tell anyone, but this blistering piece of provocation by independent writer-director Neil LaBute, his first feature (1997), has a lot to do with capitalism and how it alters our notions of masculinity and romance; in short, it’s about how business affects the way we live and think and feel. Two 30ish male execs (Aaron Eckhart, Matt Malloy) sent to their company’s branch office for six weeks decide to date, flatter, and then humiliate a woman they pick at random. (They settle on a deaf typist, deftly played by Stacy Edwards.) It doesn’t sound like a believable story without the context provided by LaBute’s concentrated minimalist style and the strong performances, but all the nuances here count, and most of them add up to something pretty potent as well as scary. Check this one out. 93 min. (JR)

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