In the Company of Men

Director: Neil LaBute
Screenwriters: Neil LaBute

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


Although the film was made on a limited budget, nothing was scrimped on the most valuable element of In the Company of Men: a wonderfully original script. I have no doubt writer/director Neil LaBute will distinguish himself as a “find” at this year’s Sundance Film Festival with the debut of this black comedy examining the male ego run amok.

In the Company of Men begins as little more than a frat boy prank. Two average guys, Chad and Howard, are junior execs from the home office en route to a six-week job in the Midwest. Both are disgusted with their lot in life—job, women, and a general lack of control over their lives. During their long hours of waiting for connections, gathering luggage, and riding to the hotel, they formulate a plan, one that will make them feel better about themselves. All they need now is a girl. She has to be a girl they can both date at the same time, one who will blossom under their attention. As Chad puts it, “She’ll be calling her mom, crazy with joy. She’ll be wearing makeup again.” Such is the way their game of deceit and betrayal is set into motion.

Dark and insightful, In the Company of Men takes on such timely issues as office politics, female empowerment, and sexual harassment, all wrapped up in a tightly constructed package of emotional espionage. It is a thriller of sorts, where guns and blades give way to far more dangerous weapons: human emotions. Used properly, they can manipulate, maim, and destroy far more painfully than inflicting mere flesh wounds. In suits and ties, armed with briefcases, the actors play out each scene with sublime sharpness and detail, delivering LaBute’s outrageous dialogue in ways that will make you squirm.The flat, ultrarealistic style of the film lends itself superbly to the minimalist starkness of corporate offices, executive washrooms, and business hotels. Although In the Company of Men may be hard to watch, it is not hard to believe, and that makes it just that much more intriguing.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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