Fernando León signs a pessimistic fable about the degradation and inhumanity of the labor market with the help of a captivating Javier Bardem
Fernando León and Javier Bardem investigated twenty years ago the feeling of failure experienced by an unemployed person in the Vigo shipyards, a victim of industrial reconversion. And yet that worker whose world had passed still retained a class pride. He knew that he belonged to the proletariat and that he could count on the solidarity of his own and the unions.
‘The good boss’, who unfairly passed through the San Sebastian Festival without luck, shows how many things have changed in the labor market in these two decades. The protagonists of this dark reverse of ‘Mondays in the Sun’ are the employees of an industrial scale company in a provincial city at the mercy of the owner, played by a captivating Javier Bardem. There are no longer any slogans, strikes, resistance boxes or demonstrations that are worthwhile. He reigns for himself who can.
With very bad temper in a comedy not so sour as one might think at the beginning, Fernando León welcomes us to White Scales with a gate very similar to the entrance door to the Auschwitz concentration camp, crowned by the infamous’ Arbeit macht frei ‘, work will set you free. We entered the territories of Don Julio Blanco, heir to the factory, local chief and recipient of favors. The protagonist, whom in the early stages we can even take for a good guy in his paternalism, does not hesitate to meddle in the personal affairs of his workers if that is for the good of the company. He also sleeps with the scholarship holders and frequents whorehouses, but León does not portray him in a too parodic or bloody way to make him more human.
White Scales is preparing to receive the award for business excellence awarded by the regional government and for which three companies compete. A commission must visit the factory and certify that, indeed, the slogan painted on its walls reigns: «Effort, balance and fidelity». ‘The good boss’ is a pessimistic fable that throws darts on issues such as the role of women and the emigrant in the labor market and social determinism. Ironically, only the vigilante played by Fernando Albizu, the only armed character, shows humanity and solidarity.