In the Company of Men
is a cult 1990s independent black comedy/drama film written and directed by Neil Labute and starring Aaron Eckhart and Matt Molloy. It tells the story of two Jerkass
co-workers, Chad and Howard, who have recently been dumped by their respective girlfriend and fiancée, seeking revenge against the female gender. So Chad cooks up a scheme that involves going out with and baiting an insecure young deaf woman, then breaking up with her and emotionally destroying her. Noted for its extremely realistic and casual portrayal of misogyny and its dark character study, the film received good reviews and won the Filmmakers Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival.
Tropes Used by this film include:
- Alas, Poor Villain: Despite all the stuff Howard does over the course of the film, it's pretty hard not to feel sorry for him at the end when Chad betrays him, gets him demoted at work, and drives him and Christine to depression. Unlike his partner, he DID have redeeming qualities, and a Freudian Excuse. Worse, Howard seemed to be about to make a Heel-Face Turn.
- Armor-Piercing Slap: Subverted - Christine slaps Chad when he tells her what's really going on, but he remains entirely unfazed.
- Black Comedy
- Consummate Liar: Chad is eerily convincing when he pretends to be in love with Christine.
- Disabled Character Abled Actor: Deaf character Christine is portrayed by hearing actress Stacey Edwards.
- Downer Ending: Chad ends up getting off scot free, and both Howard and Christine end up emotionally broken messes
- For the Evulz: Chad's reason for screwing up both Howard and Christine was his own sadistic pleasure.
- He-Man Woman Hater: Chad. Howard comes across as this initially, but redeems himself.
- In Love with the Mark: Howard provides a variant.
- Karma Houdini: Chad got away scot-free
- Though to be fair the actor himself stated that Chad would end in Rehab 10 years later, and sociopaths do tend to burn out (he amasses a reputation for sadism and hurting others and now no one will trust him. So even if Karma doesn't get him in the film it may catch up to him eventually.
- Jerkass: Chad. Howard also counts, but due to how pathetic he ends up becoming, some people think of him as a Jerkass Woobie. Chad comes across as a Jerk Witha Heartof Jerk
- Manipulative Bastard: Chad, full stop.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: The only reason why the guy who played Chad wasn't lynched by an angry mob is that the actor is much nicer in real life.
- Smug Snake: Chad
- The Sociopath: Once again, Chad.
- Speech-Centric Work: The plot is driven forward almost entirely by spoken dialogue, with most physical actions and major plot events happening offscreen. This was in part due to budget constraints.
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else: Chad.
- Twist Ending: Chad's girlfriend didn't really break up with him, ostensibly his motivation for the "game" in the first place.
- Villain Protagonist: Chad, and Howard at a push (though the latter might be more along the lines of an Anti-Hero).