The Work Movie – Powerful, Raw, Abrasive, Uplifting

I subscribe to Tim Ferriss’ newsletter known as 5-Bullet Friday. I’ll scan for interesting tidbits from time to time as I’m always curious what other people are seeing, doing, watching, reading that makes them take pause to think. Last week’s newsletter highlighted a movie called The Work. This documentary chronicles a program that is conducted at Folsom state prison in California whereby a number of hardened convicts in prison for a number of felonies related to gang activity or other offenses such as murder are brought together with men from the outside in an interesting group therapy over the course of 4 days. I just watched the movie on Amazon Prime Video (trailer) and was absolutely blown away. I don’t write about movies at all other than maybe on Facebook if I was bragging about a Marvel movie or something superficial like that. But I felt compelled to write about my experience with this movie.

The movie has won a series of awards at several film festivals. While I never heard of it until Tim mentioned it in his newsletter, I’m grateful I took the time to rent it online. It’s hard to describe the variety of emotions and thought processes I experienced during the hour and half long movie.

  • Disgust
  • Judgement
  • Skepticism
  • Interest
  • Curiosity
  • Emotional abrasion
  • Raw intensity
  • Fear as I look inward
  • Inspiration
  • Deep sadness
  • Regret
  • Enlightenment
  • Surprise
  • Contemplation
  • Happiness
  • Satisfaction

That last one was what capped it off for me as I went through this roller coaster ride during the movie observing these outwardly tough (some might say bad or evil) men expose their inner selves in ways that I’ve never observed nor experienced even in my own therapy sessions during different parts of my life and growth. One really has to listen, immerse yourself into what they are saying, what they are going through, watch the skin peel back from their bones and they make themselves absolutely vulnerable and raw. Watch the intensity of the emotions come exploding out while the other’s around them form almost a castle, a fortress protecting that raw-ness, bringing forth out more vulnerability as that raw intensity starts its metamorphosis into healing, hope, and understanding.

The satisfaction was mainly from finally seeing that even in that most violent environment of a prison that there is hope. And if there can be hope among men serving double life + 55 year sentences, then there can be hope anywhere else. There is also understanding and unity. If current and former members of the Bloods, Aryan Brotherhood, Indian Brotherhood, or other gangs and cliques can see through the colors, symbols, past histories, and transgressions, then we can all come together in understanding and embracing one another with whatever political leanings, individual perspectives, biases, color, preferences, or world views we may have. I believe this. I truly do.