REVIEWS & ACCLAIM
“Certainly the new film Working Man wasn’t intended to be released at a time when unemployment is at or approaching its highest level since perhaps the Great Depression. With more than 33 million Americans newly out of work, factories continuing to close and other results of the coronavirus pandemic, this film takes on new urgency. But most importantly, it might inspire empathy toward those who are adding to these sad statistics on a daily basis by putting a human face on what is otherwise a number on a news report.”
“In addition to all this, the poignant and pertinent script by writer-director Robert Jury hits a sad moment in Allery and Iola’s marriage as they still deal with the tragic death of their only son.”
“Jury’s film is reminiscent of the collective work of the great British director Ken Loach, whose cinematic career frequently has been directed at the plight of the working man in England. Now here’s an American director who has brought it much closer to home. This is a promising feature debut, to be sure.”
“For those going through the heartache of having your whole world suddenly turned upside down, take heart: This film is not a total downer and even offers hope. It is memorable in many ways, but first and foremost as a showcase for some fine actors who don’t get leads in movies these days. (Peter) Gerety, a recognizable actor from many films and TV shows including as last season’s key villain in Ray Donovan, is simply superb, saying more with one facial expression than many actors can do with 20 pages of dialogue. (Talia) Shire again proves what a fine actress she is, underplaying emotions buried inside, instead putting faith in her weekly Bible studies. Also just excellent is (Billy) Brown (How to Get Away with Murder), who has perhaps the showier role and delivers on all cylinders. These are the three main actors, but there is terrific support all around in this film which defines what smart independent moviemaking is all about.”
“It would be powerful material to absorb at almost any time, but that we have it right now is particularly heartening and important.”
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“Veteran character actor Peter Gerety (so effective as the primary villain in the most recent season of “Ray Donovan”) plays Allery in the quietly magnificent and deeply resonant “Working Man,” which was shot in 20 days in Chicago and one day in Joliet and has a true working-class verisimilitude. Allery is a man of very few words, yet, with every line reading, every weary sigh, every subtle change in expression, Gerety delivers a performance that is simply great. He plays a man who is simple but not ignorant. Troubled but not troublesome. A man who seems genuinely surprised when his unusual behavior bothers people.”
“The ever-graceful Talia Shire plays Allery’s loving wife Iola, who isn’t much more of a talker than her husband. (Her mannerisms and social awkwardness are reminiscent of Shire’s Adrian when we first met her in “Rocky.”)”
“Working Man” is filled with memorable little moments, as when Allery and Iola are invited to Walter’s home for dinner and Iola hesitates before they knock on the door, saying, “My mother told me to beware of beards.” “Why?” asks Allery. “Because they have something to hide.” A pause. “What about Jesus?”
“Billy Brown gives a screen-commanding performance as Walter, who comes across as an exceedingly kind and decent man but is battling to keep the demons inside him from bubbling to the surface. Like Allery and Iola, who lost their grown son, Walter is haunted by a family tragedy — but it’s a very different kind of heartbreak. Late in the story, there’s a pivotal scene between Walter and Avery, and Brown and Gerety soar as if on the stage playing Shakespeare.”
“It’s some of the most powerful acting I’ve seen in any movie this year.”
“Writer-director Robert Jury has pieced together a timely, elegiac slice of Rust Belt life and of the good men and women who want nothing more than to work and provide for their families but find themselves on the outside looking in.”
“In a country where you are what you do, what happens to a worker who loses his job? "Working Man," the first feature from writer/director Robert Jury spins that question into an intimate drama shot in greater Chicago, using the city's mostly defunct manufacturing base as atmospheric backdrop for the characters' fight for dignity.”
“…this an impressive debut movie, revolving around the sorts of lower middle-class people rarely seen in American cinema anymore, told in a style that's just as much of a throwback. It gives veteran character actors a chance to shine, not just in lead roles but supporting parts and one-scene cameos written so thoughtfully that you can picture the character starring in a movie of their own.”
"Working Man" is the kind of movie that used to be common but that has largely vanished in the United States, along with the world it portrays. But this is less of a cry of rage or a depressed lament than a borderline fable, focusing on the spirit of people whose skills are no longer needed or appreciated in the new economy. Jury and his crew pay loving attention to the textures of small row houses, grimy machinery, and off-the-rack coats and work shirts and jeans, and the way bluish dawn light and deep orange streetlights etch city streets and tired faces. As shot by Piero Basso and the father-daughter editing team of Richard and Morgan Halsey, the film is a throwback to 1970s working-class character portraits like "Norma Rae" and “Rocky” (which Richard Halsey edited), as well as an American answer to films by UK-based directors like Mike Leigh (“High Hopes”) and Ken Loach (“Sorry We Missed You”), though softer, and without the corrosive, despairing edge those filmmakers so often bring.”
“The score, by David Gonzalez, is just right for the story—a lot of it is built around repeating three- and eight-note melodies that have a sort of "factory rhythm"...”
“…there's a lot to like here, from the overall sensibility to the little details of costuming that tell you everything (such as Allery's lovingly weathered lunchpail and Walter's porkpie hat, which evokes the sorts of barrel-chested sad-sack dreamers that Burt Lancaster played once he passed 50) to the meaningful but never ostentatious framing of shots…”
“Most of all, it's a showcase for its actors, who seem energized by the opportunity to play characters who can't be neatly summarized. Gerety is a specialist in laid-back East Coast gravitas whose resume includes "The Wire," "Brotherhood," "Sneaky Pete" and "Ray Donovan." This might be a career-best performance, and it's almost entirely internal, expecting you to guess what the character is thinking and feeling based on how he looks at people, or looks away from them.”
“(Billy) Brown, a familiar face from TV's "Sons of Anarchy" and "How to Get Away with Murder," has a powerful physicality—he's built like a tank—but he uses his body delicately and precisely. This is a rare performance where the actor seems to have thought up a distinctive way for his character to do everything, even actions as basic as putting on a coat, sitting up from a weight bench, or lighting a cigarette. (Talia) Shire, another "Rocky" veteran, isn't just playing an older version of Adrian Balboa. There's a whole imagined history in the way that Iola looks at her husband as he sits sullenly across from her at the table, and she gets to play a scene with a friend late in the film about feeling lost in her own marriage that's devastating because it rings so true. The supporting cast is perfection; standouts include Ryan Hallahan, exuding entitlement as the appallingly young executive sent to put Allery in his place, and Patrese McClain, who has one short scene in a coffee shop so packed with emotion and character detail that it feels as substantial as other people's feature-length performances. She’s terrific.”
“This is a good movie with a big heart.”
MATT ZOLLER SEITZ
“What starts out as a drama about Quixotic resistance in the face of a failing Rust Belt economy, and the false promises of politicians, gradually turns into something deeper and more moving, thanks to the fine cast (which includes Talia Shire).”
“Slowly, quietly, writer-director Robert Jury’s debut feature becomes not just about finding money in tough times, but finding meaning.”
THE WASHINGTON POST
“An unconventional labor story, the movie doesn’t bask in the triumph of rebellion; instead, it’s an introspective portrait of men for whom working is a replacement for living. It’s also a coming-of-age film about the second adolescence of men at retirement age who must find a way to define themselves when the structure of work has been stripped away. The writer-director, Robert Jury, pairs Allery’s crumbling sense of self with images from the town’s decaying infrastructure, lingering on rusted fences and the boxy utilitarian homes of laborers without work…. the simple familiarity of the visuals strikes an honest note.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES
“Peter Gerety: Now there’s an actor, turning 80 this month, who knows how to do a little while conveying a hell of a lot. On “The Wire,” on “Sneaky Pete,” on “Ray Donovan,” in dozens of film and stage projects, Gerety projects no-nonsense authority, garrulous in one role, quietly threatening in another. He’s a character actor with a name that may not be familiar. The face is, though. And the face is one of the chief reasons the Chicago-made independent feature “Working Man,” making its VOD streaming premiere tomorrow, is worth your time.
“Anything made well in advance of the pandemic feels like a weird period piece these days, of course, yet Jury’s small, affecting picture fits snugly within the pandemic realities of 2020.”
“…watching Gerety delineate this taciturn man’s actions and feelings, one small detail at a time, the conventions become somehow real.”
"A potent tribute to out-of-work Americans..."
"Robert Jury's affecting drama deserves attention
for the fine performances at the center of this
"This timely drama about factory closures in the Rust Belt features a strong cast of characters including
Peter Gerety, Billy Brown and Talia Shire."
"Shire, known for her roles in the GODFATHER and ROCKY films... reminds us of what we've been missing."
"WORKING MAN is a big little movie about
complicated people in tough circumstances, and it’s thoroughly remarkable cinema."
"Director Robert Jury’s blue collar drama takes place in an anonymous Rust Belt town that’s been gutted by the offshoring of the American manufacturing base in the last decades of the 20th century... Jury also wrote Working Man, and his script is brave enough not to immediately reveal everything about why a retirement-age factory worker like Allery Parkes (Peter Gerety) feels compelled to return to his station at the plant even after the gates are locked. Jury also lets us wonder at the silence between Allery and his loving wife, Iola (Talia Shire). This is how scripts work when the writer respects the audience, and patience is rewarded when this story about a labor dispute unfolds into a tale of familial grief told through a collection of fantastic ensemble performances."
"...Jury shoots his factory interiors in a jaundiced light while Allery’s nighttime walks are as spotlit and sorrowful as Edward Hopper paintings. WORKING MAN is a bleak beauty of a film that blossoms into something unexpected. Jury gives us the familiar trappings of a working class drama, but he steers clear of clichés. This is a movie about the dignity of work. It’s never pedantic or preachy, and it doesn’t glorify manual labor while ignoring the grit."
ARTS & CULTURE WRITER
"WORKING MAN is still easily one of the best films I've seen in 2019, mostly due to its incredible cast and the simple, honest emotional core of the tale being told. Set in a Rust Belt town slowly decaying as it loses many of its factories, this film is both timely in its story and timeless with that same story. The characters and relationships are fleshed out and feel like they are real people living in a real community, with a healthy mix of humor and drama."
SENIOR FILM PROGRAMMER
NEWPORT BEACH FILM FESTIVAL
“It was one of our festival hits this year! It’s a great story with sympathetic characters you can’t help caring about. Great writing and beautifully put together. Bravo!"
SAN LUIS OBISPO INT'L. FILM FESTIVAL
"WORKING MAN is one of the most striking and provocative films I've seen in years. Up-to-the-minute relevant to issues facing us all, the story calmly and gently reels us in, and sustains our attention throughout. As a Theologian, I also saw profound moral and ethical issues being raised - but in a manner that was thoroughly entertaining and inviting of thought rather than being heavy, polemical, or scolding. In fact, although clearly not an intentionally "religious" film, nevertheless I saw Robert Jury's tale of the "Working Man" as a modern St. Peter confronting issues in contemporary America with genuine thought, but also ultimately a joyful hope. I have already started strongly recommending it to colleagues, friends, and students. This is a film that will inspire important discussions for years."
DR. DANIEL L. SMITH-CHRISTOPHER
PROFESSOR, THEOLOGICAL STUDIES
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT UNIVERSITY, LOS ANGELES
"WORKING MAN is such a timely and unexpected picture about the dignity of work centered around a beautiful performance by Peter Gerety... The film reveals itself quite marvelously and our committee was impressed by (writer/director Robert Jury's) command of the material from scene to scene... We know the film will resonate with our audiences in Western New York, a city surrounded by the artifacts of its past as an industrial powerhouse."
JOHN J. FINK
BUFFALO INT'L. FILM FESTIVAL
"One of the films I heard attendees talking about the most at this year's fest... they loved it! The story pulls you in from the start... such a heartwarming movie!"
VERONICA ELLIOT LONCAR
KANSAS CITY FILM FEST INTERNATIONAL
"WORKING MAN is a real life look at blue collar America. This "never give up" story is loaded with grit and even more heart."
iHEART RADIO "MOVIES OVER EASY"
“Gerety, Brown, and Shire are fighting demons and we appreciate their struggle…. Losing their jobs is tragic—as anyone in the rust belt knows—but their worries are rooted in something much deeper and more complex. Jury has crafted an internalized drama getting to the core of our values and the way we can become warped by them in the context of love and the guilt of being unworthy born in the process.”
THE FILM STAGE
“Writer-director Robert Jury’s made an intimate portrait of rust belt decline… built on a stoic, compelling lead performance by veteran character actor Peter Gerety…”
“…its message is well-worth repeating in a time of economic upheaval. And the example it sets for indie filmmakers — tell a story that’s about something important, create compelling characters and flesh out that cast with under-used character players who never land leads — make “Working Man” a reminder of what dramatic independent cinema was always supposed to be, and could be again.”
KPFK RADIO "FILM CLUB", LOS ANGELES
"Watching WORKING MAN brought back fond memories of growing up during the 50’s and 60’s in a blue collar neighborhood. There were tons of guys like Allery Parkes, the protagonist in writer/director Robert Jury’s excellent drama..."
"There is much to connect with in this film, and many reasons to see it. Aside from the terrific performances by the male leads, Talia Shire’s performance alone (as Allery’s wife, Iola) is worth the price of admission, reminding us of why she was nominated for two Oscars (as Connie Corleone in THE GODFATHER films and Adrian Balboa in ROCKY.) Finally, the soundtrack by David Gonzalez is wonderful..."