It’s an interesting time for independent cinema. With most blockbusters benched for the season (if not the year), indies are getting more looks: When else a new Kelly Reichardt movie could get as much press as your average rom-com?
The market fragmentation also means there are many low-budget films fighting for attention. Working Man is a particularly low-key one, but there’s strength in its simplicity.
Forced by a bad economy to continue working well into his seventies, Allery (character actor Peter Gerety) goes through the motions day after day. Much to his chagrin, the factory he works at is shutting down. What is a brutish man with one skill, few words and no friends to do?
Easy, break into the factory and keep working. Allery’s drive catches the attention of Walter (Billy Brown), a relative newcomer to the working-class neighborhood. Soon, the two of them turn breaking and entering into a rallying cry against the heartless designs of corporate America.
Up to this point, Working Man rethreads a somewhat familiar story: Hard, honest work can give someone’s life meaning (if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you). But then the film takes a left turn: Does Allery know Walter well enough to tie their fates together?
Written and directed by Robert Jury, Working Man has all the markings of a first-time filmmaker (a bit too mannered and heavy handed). The film, however, is elevated by Gerety, who gives his all in his first lead role in forty years. Just as good is Talia Shire (of Rocky and The Godfather fame) as Allery’s long suffering wife who refuses to go quietly into the night.
There’s a topic with considerable potential the movie hints at, but doesn’t face head on: How to tackle an emotionally complex situation when you don’t have the tools to do it. Maybe next time. Three blue-collar prairie dogs (out of five).
Working Man is available on VOD.