Towering above his workers on the factory floor, Julio Blanco (Javier Bardem), on the platform of a cherry picker, tells them how much he regards his company as one big happy family that looks after its loyal staff.
Reviewed by Nigel Watson
Blanco is convincing as the benevolent, fatherly boss, but cracks in his perfect image of the family owned Blanco Scales company soon appear. A recently sacked employee Jose (Óscar de la Fuente) confronts him, saying his whole life has been ruined, and he takes to camping in front of the factory where he uses a megaphone to blast out rhyming insults to Blanco every morning when he arrives in his smart Jaguar. Jose soon has an unlikely and funny relationship with the guard Román (Fernando Albizu) at the security gate, who advises him on the quality of his insults.
This is bad enough, but Blanco is expecting a committee to arrive in the next few days to judge if they are worthy of winning an award against two other companies. Frustratingly, it is not just the disgruntled ex-employee on his doorstep, trivial things like the scales at the factory entrance are out of kilter, and more disturbingly his production manager is making lots of mistakes, and Blanco gets involved with a young female intern Liliana (Almudena Amor) that quickly backfires.
Blanco is constantly fire-fighting one disaster after another to secure the much prized award, and he does it with disarming charm, underhanded manipulation and a steely ruthlessness. It is appropriate that Blanco’s factory manufactures scales, as it emphasises the need for checks and balances to accurately make a reading. Blanco himself says he can judge the correct weight of things blindfolded, but when he demonstrates this ability he always cheats. That just about sums up his attitude to reality, the truth and justice. Even when dealing with the unbalanced scales at the factory entrance, Blanco cheats rather than gets it fixed properly.
Mostly Blanco’s behaviour is comedic and highlights his abuse of power and his underlying dishonesty, but there is a darker side to the film when he engages an old employees’ son to sort out Jose.
Director and writer Fernando Leon de Aranoa, weaves a mixture of fascinating interrelated sub-plots with Javier Bardem outstanding as the good boss who has no sense of justice and balance, except in his own imagination. It is as much a story about self delusion as about the imbalance of power in a capitalist society.
The Good Boss is screening from Friday 22nd – Thursday 28th July at Plymouth Arts Cinema.