Who’s the boss? Javier Bardem in a workplace satire

Cohen Media Group Manolo Solo, left, and Javier Bardem in a scene from “The Good Boss.”

Javier Bardem strutting around like a latter-day Henry Ford is the best reason, but not the only reason, to see “The Good Boss.” A leisurely paced, enjoyable movie set in an unnamed town in Spain, this odd workplace satire features a tight, largely unknown cast including the craggy Spanish character actor Manolo Solo and the bulldog-gruff Oscar de la Fuente, and two actresses, Almudena Amor and Mara Guil, that seems to have been tapped to pull off as many narrative twists and reversals as possible without upstaging the plot. This talent fits the movie, which primarily registers first as a would-be day-at-the-office comedy and then turns darker and more barbed as it progresses toward an enigmatically scary final shot.

Bardem plays Julio Blanco, who owns Blanco Scales, which manufactures weight-measuring devices for everything and everyone from courtrooms (he’s a firm believer in justice) to farm animals. His primary comrade is Miralles (Solo), a rueful blue-collar guy whose wide, searching eyes and droopy, sad-sack face suggest his preoccupation with an obsession that his wife is sleeping with someone working for the company. Bardem dominates the movie with his innate charisma, a natty economical performance that never feels labored or overcooked and a magnificent controlled slow burn that he reprises often throughout the film yet somehow doesn’t ignite the fire you anticipate.

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