The celebrated playwright Edward Bond wrote In the Company of Men (no relation to Neil LaBute’s film of the same title) at the height of his disgust over modern capitalist culture. Arnaud Desplechin did for Bond’s play—about a young businessman who goes to ruin trying to outmaneuver his arms-manufacturer father—what Louis Malle did for Uncle Vanya: the dramatic action itself, shot with a hyperactive handheld camera, alternates with footage of the actors auditioning, rehearsing, and gearing up to perform. Desplechin locates Bond in a high-tragedy tradition stretching from Sophocles to Shakespeare: at one point, deciding the play lacks enough female roles, the cast splice in one of Ophelia’s scenes from Hamlet.

  • Arnaud Desplechin
  • 2003
  • France
  • French with English subtitles
  • 35mm
  • 121 minutes