In The Company Of Men
Writer/director Neil LaBute has taken the gender-issues film into uncharted, almost inhuman territory with this malevolently perfect exploration of male cruelty. Aaron Eckhart and Matt Malley are business colleagues who make a game out of the premeditated manipulation of Stacy Edwards, the beautiful but naive woman from their typing pool. Edwards is the perfect subject for their experiment; not only is she romantically inexperienced, she's deaf. It's all made 10 times creepier by the inexplicable familiarity of their misogynist dialogue, the oddly generic but highly competitive office setting, and the genuine sweetness and honesty of Edwards. LaBute's exploration of human hatred is relentless and exacting: Eckhart's brand of evil is strong, calculating and knowing, while Malloy's is weak, self-centered, and delusional. As both men willfully exploit and manipulate, what the viewer ultimately experiences is not entertainment but a horrified familiarity. As an example of the basest sort of human relationship, In The Company Of Men should be required first- or second-date viewing for all couples.