Linda Cook review: ‘Working Man’ is finest movie of 2020

Local News

I tried to think of something clever to begin this review. I’ll settle for something honest.

“Working Man” is the best movie of 2020. It’s a silver lining in so many ways in a year so awful it defies description.

Yes, there are others on my “best of” list, which includes a couple dozen films. But this is the one that will resonate with me long after this year is (finally) finished.

Up until the spring of 2020, I spent a great many hours each week in theaters. When they closed, and I began to turn my attention to “little” movies – smaller-budget films critics receive, usually via screener links.

That’s how I watched “Working Man.” I knew almost nothing about it except that it starred Peter Gerety (“A Most Violent Year”), Talia Shire (yes, of “Rocky” fame) and Billy Brown (“How to Get Away With Murder.”)

By the time it was over, I was sobbing on the couch, saying “Who in the world is Robert Jury?”

Jury, writer and director, is an Iowa native – a neighbor, of sorts, who lives in Iowa City – and the film resonates with Midwestern sensibilities.

The premise is simple … at first. Allery (Gerety) has worked at a factory for decades. Now the factory is shutting down, and he faces the prospect of his final paycheck.

He walks home, as always, and gets up in the morning and, as always, walks back to the closed factory. Day after day, back and forth he goes. His neighbors, Walter (Brown) among them, wonder what he’s doing in the empty building.

When Walter approaches him, the two make an unlikely connection that begins to attract attention that goes far beyond the neighborhood.

To tell you more would be to ruin it for you. It is a tale gently told about what motivates us to befriend others, how much work defines us, and how we measure self worth.

The ensemble is incredible, from Shire as Ellery’s quiet, bewildered wife to the thoughtful Walter and of course Gerety’s determined Allery. The performances are superb.

I think this marvelous film will be a silver lining for you, too.

Running time: One hour and 49 minutes.

Unrated, but similar to a PG-13 for brief foul language.

On streaming platforms and DVD.

Watch an exclusive excerpt of an interview with the director and one of the stars of “Working Man” that appeared on Local 4 News at 4 on Friday in the video above. And click here for the full conversation Linda Cook hosted on Zoom.

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