Chad (Aaron Eckhart) and Howard (Matt Malloy) are two friends employed in a large corporation. This should be taken with a grain of salt, friends, because even though it is the insecure Howard who is nominally the superior, Chad is the true alpha male, bitter, cynical and frustrated, but smug guy. We meet this duo as they travel for six weeks to a regional office outside the city where they normally live and work, and Chad complains to a friend that he is angry and furious because his girlfriend dumped him. In order to take revenge on the entire female gender, Chad will come up with a plan to find a sensitive and vulnerable girl or woman, aloof and insecure, whom both of them will start wooing at their new workplace. And once she falls in love with one of them, they will discard her like an old rag.
Although reluctantly, the more reserved Howard will also agree to this rotten and sleazy plan, and to make the situation more brutal, Chad will choose the deaf girl from the office, Christine (Stacy Edwards), as the victim of their evil game. Unaware that the sociopathic maniac and his sidekick decided to only play with her, this beautiful, sweet and attention-seeking girl will eventually fall in love with the callous and cruel Chad, but she won’t be the only one to get the upper hand in this horrible game . This black comedy by Neil LaBute premiered at the Sundance festival, he won for “In the Company of Men” and the Golden Camera for the best debutant at Cannes, and although at first it may seem that it is a misogynistic, misogynistic film, a lot is more than a brutal comedy about sick banter.
That sadistic game devised by Chad is just the occasion for a brutal satire of the system of selfishness, cruelty and unimaginable callousness characterized by that sleazy guy brilliantly impersonated by Eckhart. Already in the opening conversation between the two, we realize what a cruel troglodyte he is. He claims that the times have come when white educated men come to a subordinate position and that everyone has an advantage over them. But they come from that particularly cruel, corporate system, in which, it seems, only the strongest and cruelest and most ruthless survive and can make their way to leadership positions. The system is subservient only for personal gain and guys like Chad look at everyone around them, even people they nominally consider friends, primarily as competition and as someone who needs to be stepped on for their own success.
Although the film caused great controversy, what is most frightening here is the incredible realism, the realization that something like this is completely possible. Not only that, but the brutal but true realization that guys like Chad are usually the ones who win in life because they’re taught not to look back and don’t bother much with the damage they do to others. We also see that characters like Chad are the ones that the more insecure will look up to, those who maybe like Howard think they are good and honest, but characters who will easily fall for such sociopaths. And that’s why LaBute’s black comedy / satire is so shocking, brutal, almost brilliant in its repulsiveness because it shows people without any embellishment.