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Quickie review: Working Man

In this time of sheltering in place anxiety, this indie flick touches a nerve. It’s the story of a Rust Belt factory closing down and the workers feeling lost without a job to go to. At the center of the film is Allery Parkes (Peter Gerety – Sneaky Pete) a man running from his pain by continuing to work past retirement age. But when his reason for getting up in the morning is taken away from him, he’s unmoored. So he returns to the factory, sneaking in and spending his days tidying up the place. But when the rest of his fellow workers find out, and urged on by his new friend and neighbor Walter Brewer (Billy Brown – How to Get Away with Murder), a movement is started to get the plant up and running again. And Allery is thrust into the uncomfortable role of leader.

Allery and his wife Iola (Talia Shire – Rocky, The Godfather) live a very quiet and sad existence, their lives destroyed by the suicide of their son. She doesn’t understand what he’s doing and is fearful. But Allery’s friendship with Walter changes him and gives him a larger purpose. The takeover of the New Liberty Plastics factory doesn’t exactly go as planned, but by the end Allery and Iola have got their groove back.

Working Man is one of those underdog stories you go with even when it hits a lot of missteps along the way. It’s really Allery’s story. And Peter Gerety is extremely good in it. So is Billy Brown. And that’s why it works. The script tends towards melodrama, and the characters beyond Allery and Walter are not very well drawn, but first time director Robert Jury, himself a product of the Rust Belt, gets the tone right, painting the working class denizens of the town as salt of the earth, just wanting to hold on. The tone is enhanced by cinematographer Piero Basso who shoots the crumbling town in a beautiful rust colored patina. I’m not sure this one would have hit it big in theaters, but since you’re home and you can stream it, give it a try.

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