“El buen patrón”, a Spanish comedy that makes fun of paternalistic bosses

Can we still, in 2022, run a business the old way? This is the question posed by the Spanish director Fernando León de Aranoa with the dramatic comedy “El buen patrón”. The performance of the main actor, Javier Bardem, has won several awards in Spain.

Juan Blanco (Javier Bardem) runs a scale factory. He runs his establishment the old-fashioned way, considering himself a father to his employees. He listens to their problems and helps them solve them, including when it comes to problems beyond the framework of work. His goal: to win the company of the year award.

However, the apparent benevolence of the boss is only a facade. Power-hungry, Juan Blanco suffers from many vices, including manipulation and sexual harassment. But as the price could well save his factory from bankruptcy, he tries to keep up appearances. However, between his ex-employee who demonstrates in front of the building against his dismissal, a model employee in the midst of a marital crisis and an intern who threatens to reveal the boss’ adulteries to his wife, the price is far from won.

>> Watch: The movie trailer

The poster for the movie “El buen patrón”. [REPOSADO THE MEDIAPRO STUDIO]A box in Spain

The Spanish director Fernando León de Aranoa signs with “El buen patrón”, (“The good boss”) a social comedy and tongue-in-cheek, indirect criticism of small provincial bosses, even companies and the capitalist system.

The film achieved great success in Spain where it won numerous awards, including the Goya Award – Spain’s equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or – for Best Film and Best Actor, and the Platino Award. for best director and best actor. Javier Bardem indeed interprets an antihero as funny as it is cruel, without plunging into the clichés of the provincial bourgeois.

A nice comedy that could have gone further

In the cinema debate of “Vertigo” on the RTS, the journalist of Le Temps Stéphane Gobbo appreciates the sometimes very scathing gags of the film: the young marketing interns weighed on cattle scales and the boss who considers his employees as his family. Still, he owns a big house with a pool, but pays them modestly. On the other hand, “the social message does not go very far” and the comedy “remains quite light despite the gravity of the final drama”, he believes.

>> To listen: “El buen patrón” in the cinema debate of “Vertigo”

Cinema debate: El buen patrón, by Fernando León de Aaranoa / Vertigo / 4 min. / Wednesday at 5:17 p.m.

As for the critic Vincent Adatte, he finds that the film is “a pretty comedy which could have been more radical in its approach.” Javier Bardem manages to make his character likeable, “despite his cynicism”. By focusing on the cases of the various employees, the film depicts a “catalogue of what the small family capitalism of a certain era can be like”. The metaphor of company-made scales could also have been better exploited: indeed, what makes a company balanced?

Myriam Semani

“El Buen Patròn” by Fernando León de Aranoa, to be seen in French-speaking cinemas.

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“El buen patrón”, a Spanish comedy that makes fun of paternalistic bosses