A small movie, yes, but one with a large, achingly humane theme: the effect of corporate downsizing on the soul as well as the wallet. At first, you may not give a crap about what happens to white guys in suits who lose their jobs at GTX, a Boston manufacturing company. There's a stench of arrogance around Bobby Walker (Ben Affleck in top form), what with the chichi house, wife (Rosemarie DeWitt), kids, Porsche and golf-club membership. When he loses his position and privileges, Bobby has to beg jobs from his wife's blue-collar brother, Jack (a terrific Kevin Costner), a building contractor who works with his hands, not a spreadsheet. At a motivational center, Bobby runs into Phil Woodward (Chris Cooper), an older guy freshly dumped by GTX and advised to dye his hair and take anything off his résumé that suggests he had a career before 1990. The company CEO, James Salinger (Craig T. Nelson), isn't losing sleep from cutting staff. The only compassion comes from number-two man Gene McClary (Tommy Lee Jones). Writer John Wells, in an impressive feature directing debut, tosses a lot of balls in the air that he can't always keep airborne. And his TV roots on ER and The West Wing result in softening edges that are better left unsandpapered. But Wells is a wonder with actors — Cooper and Jones earn top honors — and a filmmaker with an instinct for the emotions that bleed between the lines. This haunting movie hits you hard and right where you live.
Claire Folger/Weinstein Company