Marking their third collaboration in 20 years, filmmaker Fernando León de Aranoa and Oscar winner Javier Bardem reteamed for The Good Boss, which is representing Spain in this year’s International Feature Oscar race. The duo joined Deadline’s Contenders Film: International awards-season event to discuss the movie and their enduring relationship.
A dark comedy, The Good Boss examines abuse of power, in this case as wielded by Bardem’s charismatic and controlling factory boss Blanco, who will go to extreme lengths to protect the world he has created for himself — and to ensure his affairs with interns are not exposed to his wife.
Blanco considers himself to be the good boss of the title, and as Bardem told us, he “thinks of himself as a savior, as a person who really helps others to achieve their goals personally and professionally — and he unites them under the signature of becoming a family. He’s the kind of character that we know of around the world that has to do with being very warm and nice to be around, very smart, very powerful and that has some attraction to us — and then when we realize we are trapped in his manners… we are at his mercy and then he can create a kind of abuse.”
The film premiered to raves at San Sebastian and connected with the audience there. Bardem noted that the story is told “with a very dark sense of humor, but also with a very pointing social point about it. That makes the movie not only appealing, interesting and fun to watch, but also conscious.”
For de Aranoa, “It was very important for us to have the audience — and ourselves when making the film — have some sympathy with the character. You need to do that, otherwise there is no way to build a good character.”
That the factory Blanco inherited manufactures industrial scales was not a “casual” choice, de Aranoa said on the Cohen Media Group panel, as balance begins to go askew. “When the film finds this character, he has a kind of control over all the different angles of his life… and then the film tells about this in a moment when he’s losing control and how he tries to keep this at any price.”
Based on their mutual admiration, it wouldn’t be surprising to see de Aranoa and Bardem team up again in the future. Bardem said the reason he has already done three films with de Aranoa is “the fact that Fernando is one of the best scriptwriters that I have ever known, and I will ever know, and an amazing director, an amazing editor, a great producer and above all a great human being with a clear conscience on not only great storytelling but telling stories that matter. It’s a powerful combination.”
Cohen Media Group has domestic rights to The Good Boss.
Check out the panel video above.
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