In The Good Boss (El buen patron), Javier Bardem, who won an Oscar for his supporting role in No Country for Old Men, plays Julio Blanco, who inherited his father’s business, Básculas Blanco, which makes commercial scales. Blanco rules his employees as a fatherly Mr. Nice Guy. However, behind this façade, he is ruthless and will, without warning. dump employees he no longer needs.
Blanco’s latest obsession is winning the prize in a regional business excellence competition for which Básculas Blanco is one of three finalists. The inspectors for the competition will make an unannounced visit, so, naturally, Blanco employs an intelligence network to find out when they will show up. In addition to the obligatory pep talks he gives to his employees, he makes sure that one section head is a North African man and another is a young white woman, diversity being worth extra points.
But Blanco has one big obstacle. A fired employee, José (Óscar de la Fuente), has set up a one-man protest camp across from the entrance to the factory. José, using a loudspeaker, and occasionally joined by his child, harasses Blanco, and anyone else who comes to the entrance, with chants and banners and general ranting. Because José is on public land, Blanco can’t get rid of him.
Meanwhile, Blanco engages in extramarital affairs. He has a predilection for beautiful young interns because, after all, interns are only there temporarily. His latest conquest is Liliana (Almudena Amor). Impressed by their first sexual encounter, Blanco asks Liliana where she learned such techniques. Online videos. But Liliana has a surprise in store for her good boss. It turns out that she is the daughter of one of Blanco’s oldest friends. She used a pseudonym so that Blanco wouldn’t give her preferential treatment. Unlike the other interns, she is not going away.
As the day of the award inspection comes closer, Blanco hatches a sinister plan to deal with José. Blanco deserves to be punished for what he does, but he’s rich—and a Good Boss—so he lives by a different set of rules.
Bardem specializes in serious roles, such as those in which he earned Best Actor Oscar nominations for Before Night Falls and Biutiful, but he has no problem warming to this more comic role.
This is the third film on which Bardem and writer-director Fernando León de Aranoa have collaborated, the others being Mondays in the Sun (2002) and Loving Pablo (2017).