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In the Company of Men (1997, Aaron Eckhart, Matt Malloy)

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Thirtysomething white-collar workers, smooth jock Chad (Aaron Eckhart) and his geeky boss, Howard (Matt Malloy), are on their way to a business seminar in another American city. Both feel under the cosh from women, having been dumped by their girlfriends, and they also complain that at work the drive for sexual equality has swung too far against them. Chad is particularly graphic about his hatred towards women while impressionable Howard, although less vitriolic, goes along with Chad’s vengeful scheme to get their own back on the fairer sex. ‘Let’s do it,’ he says, ‘Let’s hurt somebody.’

The plan is to use their anonymity in the alien city to pick on a vulnerable woman who’s perhaps unused to flattery, simultaneously date her, build her hopes up and then mercilessly dump her when they leave for home six weeks later. The victim Chad chooses is Christine (Stacy Edwards), a kind-hearted, luminous but deaf secretary. The ruse goes according to plan until Howard falls for Christine, who has fallen for Chad. Chad is in no mood to change the rules however, especially as he sees the game as an opportunity to leap-frog Howard on the corporate ladder.

Winner of the coveted Filmmakers Trophy at the Sundance Festival, ‘The movie is brilliantly structured. As each week goes by and Christine is lured into the un-tender trap set up by male vanity, other aspects of men behaving badly come into focus’ (Evening Standard).

Mormon writer/director Neil LaBute’s ‘cruel, cool and pleasingly provocative’ film (Time Out), is much more than merely the study in misogyny for which it is notorious. It is also about how competitiveness has twisted men into amoral, power-hungry monsters. Chad, who at one point forces a black underling to drop his pants to prove that he has the ‘balls’ to be promoted, explains that he humiliates his victims, ‘Because I can.’

production details
Canada – USA | 97 minutes | 1997

Writer and Director: Neil LaBute

cast
Aaron Eckhart as Chad
Stacy Edwards as Christine
Matt Malloy as Howard
Michael Martin as Co-worker #1
Mark Rector as John

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