For all the talk in the film world about the need to see more female characters and relationships on screen, in practice, this usually manifests itself as female actors just taking on traditional male roles—”strong female lead” becomes another buzzword in an industry known for buzzwords.
Company from Doron Max Hagay is an odd film—one that focuses on a uniquely female relationship that is incredibly hard to classify. One instant, it feels healthy—an ephemeral companionship that is needed at this particular place and time for two women who are struggling with their own respective demons. Then, suddenly, it’s toxic and parasitic. And, then, just as quickly, it’s like that of a parent and child.
We’ve long been admirers of Hagay’s work and Company feels like it very much fits in his distinct oeuvre. His work—even his comedy sketch collaborations—always have this curious aesthetic—this feeling that something is “off.” But he’s also not so abstract in his approach that it becomes distancing. In the case of Company, I truly believe he cares about both these women and their emotions. But, he then underscores it with a tonal execution that is both peculiar and hypnotic. It’s a style that is very much his own and one he continues to cultivate with each project. Among the “real” relationship stuff, he supplants odd corporate symbolism (Pepsi) and backs everything with an atypical musical score. It’s strange to be sure, but also, never loses your attention by drifting too far down the indie rabbit hole.
By the time the conclusion arrives and Dana’s husband returns, you’re left wondering if it was all a dream, or just a strange little detour in these two women’s lives—a fleeting bond of convenience that was simply past its expiration date.
As he writes to Short of the Week:
“Company deals explicitly with male absence. I was excited by an ending where a man’s reunion with his bereaved wife is a bitter disappointment to the audience. I was also interested in making a movie that appears to be sponsored by a major corporation but is not. “
This is the third film that Hagay has worked on with both these wonderful actors (Blair Beeken and Katy Fullan) and the trio’s on-set familiarity comes through on screen. Shot choices are deliberate and coverage is limited to emphasize the performances.
Hagay is currently working on a digital series for Comedy Central, which seems like the perfect match for his strange, engaging, and unique style.