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Black masculinity explored in gripping film 'The Work'

BREAKING GROUND: The Work is an honest exploration of black manhood

THERAPY AND black men is a narrative that is rarely explored in film or encourage in reality. However, The Work directed by Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous places the two aspects together, making for a vulnerable and engaging expose.

Set inside a single room in Folsom Prison, The Work follows three men from outside as they participate in a four-day group therapy retreat with level-four convicts. Over the four days, each man in the room takes his turn at delving deep into his past.

The raw and revealing process that the incarcerated men undertake exceeds the expectations of the free men, ripping them out of their comfort zones and forcing them to see themselves and the prisoners in unexpected ways.

The contrast between the free men and prisoners is thrilling to watch, as we observe the socialisation between the two in close quarters as they talk through some of their greatest fears and trauma in an intimate and revealing way.

Beyond this observation, The Work does a great job of breaking down the stereotypes associated with those locked behind prison walls, and shows a side of black manhood where vulnerability is explored amongst the six characters. McLeary’s fly-on-the-wall approach makes it feel as though you're intruding in on private moments, adding to the raw feel of the film.

The Work offers a powerful and rare look past the cinder block walls, steel doors and the dehumanising tropes in our culture to reveal a movement of change and redemption that transcends what we think of as rehabilitation.

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