NEIL LABUTE’S IN THE COMPANY OF MEN — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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This film is utterly poisonous. It’s totally cruel and it’s in love with the fact that it’s cruel. It’s happy to be mean, and it doesn’t care if you don’t like it. Neil LaBute’s first film, In the Company of Men, is still more than likely his best. This is a movie where two seemingly nice guys simultaneously romance a naive, deaf woman, with the express written plan to drop her like a sack of potatoes, thus destroying her as a person. Rarely do you get a glimpse of cinematic treachery on a level that this film provides. Some of this film is dangerously funny; portions of it will make you sick. It made a star out of Aaron Eckhart and it led to a fabulous chacter actor career for Matt Malloy. Stacy Edwards breaks your heart – it’s such a gutsy performance. LaBute’s extremely pessimistic worldview was on full display here, and without spoiling everything, you should know that this is a worldview where bad people often times come out on top. LaBute’s plain but subtle visual style gave off an icy, emotionally remote vibe that extends to the themes on display. I can remember being absolutely in awe of this movie as a high school senior; it’s the first film I reviewed for my school newspaper and it’s the movie that really spurred on my interest in discussing film in the written form.

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