Working Man

May 26, 2020

A character and socially immediate study whose initial slow pace becones cataclysm.

Working Man

Grade: A-

Director: Robert Jury

Screenplay: Jury

Cast: Peter Gerety (Flight), Talia Shire (Rocky)

Runtime: 1h 45m

By: John DeSando

A new on-demand film, Working Man, is as moving as the biggest thriller, say Extraction, as you will see this troubled mid-section of our century. Everything is minimalist, making the simple story of a simple man, Allery (Peter Gerety) and his fellow factory workers not simple at all.

It contains the fabulous elements of a wishful narrative still rooted in the realities of a crippled economy and fractured lives. Stay with the first half hour, for it is Seinfeld in a Chicago burb with no more factories, and few laughs, because nothing happens but the repetition of a man walking to work each day where there is no work.

Allery is gently living a fantasy, but he is aided by the charismatic former worker, Walt (Billy Brown), stirring up fellow workers to join them in protest by sneaking into the factory and working on incomplete orders. The media makes it difficult to oust these protestors, who don’t profit from their trespassing.

In addition to the mounting tension, and first-time writer/director Robert Jury keeps it ratcheting up nicely, is Allery’s lumbering marriage to Iola (Talia Shire), whom he a few years ago spiritually left after a family tragedy. The depiction of their dying relationship is as good as you will get for insight in how things can go wrong.

The real thrust of the film is to see Allery become a reluctant leader and Walter become more than a cohort. The growing public attention for the community is a good thing considering how cowed and secluded they had become. Confrontations on all sides are a given, and Jury makes them plausible and welcomed. This is the story of how people cope with unemployment in times when everyone is complicit and, for instance, a virus upends every life.

Gerety, a pint-sized Paul Sorvino or Charles Durning, will break your heart with his sincerity and his interior loneliness because this is a film about what goes on inside, not so much out.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at