Opening 28 Jul 2022
On the trophy wall in Blanco (Javier Bardem) and Adela’s (Sonia Almarcha) spacious home one spotlight highlights a space waiting to be filled. Básculas Blanco produces and sells scales from household to industrial size; like his company, the charismatic Blanco keeps building on what is there making sure everything is in balance. When Fortuna (Celso Bugallo) needs help with his son (Martín Páez) he turns to his boss. Blanco bends over backwards to help old friend and product manager Miralles (Manolo Solo) clear his head, then even talks to Miralles’ wife Aurora (Mara Guil). He spares time for the interns, particularly Liliana (Almudena Amor). Hence, prior to the awards committee's plant inspection Blanco’s pep talk to his employees’ stresses loyalty and being “family.” Regrettably it coincides with Jose's (Óscar de la Fuente) termination, the management team's refusal to reinstate him, and then Jose's vociferous reaction. He sets up camp with his two children opposite the plant's entrance heckling traffic, chiefly Blanco. The gatekeeper Román (Fernando Albizu) tries to maintain some equilibrium. Blanco is always courteous, in charge/control, and levelheaded… until he is not.
The Good Boss, writer-director Fernando León de Aranoa and Javier Bardem's second collaboration (Mondays in the Sun, 2002), scrutinizes fairness and the lack of in workplaces, relationships, and life in general. Bardem brings his dramatis personae to life: Blanco's charm, his artful schmoozing and craftiness to reach goals. Bardem is the footing that anchors the film; the cast is first-rate. The scale tilts though as León de Aranoa loses balance, and the laugh-out-loud satirical exposé of life's inequalities fizzle into a dramatization.
Cinematographer Pau Esteve Birba's angles and viewpoints, and dolly choices embellishes scenes; César Macarrón's production design subtly delineates (Blanco's) boundaries, as does Zeltia Montes' music shift moods. Editor Vanessa Marimbert's tendency to keep revisiting insignificant characters/scenes is cumbersome and makes the film too long. On the other hand, Bardem gets the last word with the last looks on his face. El buen patrón was Spain's entry for the 2021 Academy Award for Best International Feature Film. (Marinell Haegelin)