Working Man is the story of the last factory in a small blue collar town closing its doors. The anonymous Rust Belt city that is home to the factory and it’s workers feels familiar and well warn. The houses and bridges that are seen almost seem to be a snapshot of a different era, a town stuck in time.
One particular worker is having trouble accepting the closure. Allery Parkes (Peter Gerety) continues his duties, not just after the bell rings on the final day, no he continues going into work, even if it means breaking into the building. The odd, irrational behavior does not go unnoticed. His wife, Iola (Talia Shire) begins to worry about his mental health, seeking help from friends and even setting up a meeting with a local minister, but to no avail, Allery is determined to continue going into work. Every day he walks through the small neighborhood shared by the other laid off workers, it doesn’t take long for the whole town to notice that he is back to his routine, especially after the police take him home and warn him not to go back. That is when Walter Brewer (Billy Brown) steps up, he was one of the newest employees, but he empathizes with Allery’s mission and the two start working together, striking up an unlikely friendship and setting into motion a series of events that will change their lives.
The film sets a couple of questions up to be answered, but takes a long time to answer them, leaving the audience more confused than interested. The good news is that once we start to understand exactly why Allery is so obsessed with staying busy at work, the film is quite good, but it comes a little too late. Without the compelling emotional storyline the film doesn’t quite hit the mark, even with its timely message.
The three lead actors, Peter Gerety, Billy Brown, and Talia Shire really help bring humanity to the film. The emotional story is carried by Gerety and Shire, who play very well of each other as husband and wife. While Brown and his intersecting story bring an elevated connection. The supporting cast is a bit lackluster and sometimes distracting with bad line reads.
First time writer and director Robert Jury has crafted a deeply personal story. It is easy to connect to its characters, even if we don’t exactly understand their motives right away. Both Allery and Walter are two men that are stuck in time, much like the city they live in, they have the same comfortable routine and when it is threatened, they cannot move forward. They both have very good reasons for being in such a state of melancholy, having experienced much loss. Allery’s journey of grief and coming to grips with his reality is very emotional and the backbone of the story. Loss and grief are shared by everyone, a shared connection, even through a common goal, can bring redemption.
3 out of 5