What really draws people into a film is when they can see themselves up on the screen. They can relate. While I am not an arthritic, blue collar working, over 60 year old man I have to say that Allery was highly relatable. A kind of everyman. The kind of character which you can understand no matter your sex or age. Despite his lack of words, he reads like an open book.
While they keep saying things like 40 is the new 30 and 50 is the new 40 what they really mean is that getting older is not seen as the beginning of the end it used to be. Especially for men. Still the opportunities in the acting world for those over 60 are not wide and vast unless your name is Helen Mirren, Robert De Niro or Meryl Streep. Here we get a chance for older actors to shine.
It is still pretty set in stone that most people feel that when we hit 60 it is time to start thinking about retirement. When people don’t head out to pasture then we look down our nose at them. Many feel their time is done and they should step aside for the younger generation. Allery (Peter Gerty – Charlie Wilson’s War, Public Enemies) loves his job. He is older than 60 and is kinda the butt of many jokes by his coworkers. Still he shows up every day with no signs of even thinking of retiring.
His plastics factory is the last one still open in his small Rust Belt town. But not for long. They are going to shutter the doors sooner rather than later. Like now. Leaving many workers out of jobs. Including Allery. After only one day at home with his wife Iola (Talia Shire – Rocky, The Godfather) he is already itching to go back to work. And he does.
The next morning he gets up early, packs his lunch box and breaks into the factory. There, despite the electricity being turned off, he works. Does it day after day. Finally his next door neighbour and former colleague Walter (Billy Brown – The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Cloverfield) tells Allery he has the keys so he doesn’t have to break in and that he going to drive him there.
Soon the two are working side by side. Walter even gets the electricity turned back on. It doesn’t take long before everyone in the small town notices what is going on – their coworkers, the police and the owners of the factory. Under Walter’s leadership, everyone is back working. Camping out at the factory. Hoping to force the owners to reopen the factory.
American workers are, like many work forces around the world, undergoing a tough time. By tough, I mean just like in Robert Jury’s (first film) film businesses are closing. People are out of work. Desperate times call for desperate measures. We need something to feel good about. Someone to follow. Who better than an average guy who just wants to work?
Sentimental, yes. Familiar feeling, yes. Characters who are very human, yes. Big heart, yes. All the required elements of a film which will make you love it. Simple, straightforward, filled with emotion, solid performances, an ending with some redemption, a light shone on the need for compassion in this tough world, and how it is important to have a reason in life. A small film about the human condition and that is more than enough.