The Good Boss (‘El Buen Patrón’)

DRAMA; 1hr 56min (French with subtitles)

STARRING: Daniel Auteuil, Gilles Lellouche, Sara Giraudeau

Rough justice: Bardem

With his ready, camouflaging smile and florid gift of gab, Julio Blanco (Bardem) is the smarmy brand of small-time boss who speechifies to his employees about the importance of family and loyalty, then uses the word “emancipating” when he’s firing them. Which he naturally does with the deepest regret! But with Blanco Scales competing for a must-have award for regional excellence, those blessed to still be on board in its factory need to be at the top of their game in writer-director Fernando León de Aranoa’s acerbic comedy of errors.


Beneath Blanco’s balmy surface, all is far from plain sailing. His wife, Adela (Almarcha), drips resignation. Miralles (Solo), his head of production for 22 years, is maritally challenged and messing up big time at work. A certain flirty intern (Amor as Liliana) has caught Blanco’s roving eye while a disgruntled former staffer (Oscar de la Fuente as José) isn’t in the business of going quietly. To put it extremely mildly.


None of this is a good look for corporate pre-eminence — except for Liliana, who should be off-limits but isn’t. Blanco pushes on regardless through karmic stings that bite and multiply, while Bardem, grey of mane and avuncular to his fingertips, has a field day with middlebrow misconduct. His oily resolve is the vital spark in the bad to worse of a bitch of a week.