The Work

Directed by Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous

Set entirely inside Folsom Prison, The Work follows three men during four days of intensive group therapy with convicts, revealing an intimate and powerful portrait of authentic human transformation that transcends what we think of as rehabilitation.


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  • ★★★★★ review by Chris Speddings on Letterboxd

    A Raw and visceral look, at a group counselling service in a American High Security Prison. There are so many moments in this film that go beyond the screen and affect the viewer. The cinematography, creates an intimate and insightful feel that actively involve you with the feelings and actions of these men. The sound also helps create this sense of incredible intimacy, capturing breathing, tiny movements and at one point heartbeats, really showing an intimate look at humanity. A must watch documentary.

  • ★★★★½ review by Aaron White on Letterboxd

    The raw, visceral emotion displayed as these men do "the work" is so intense, so powerful, and so thick that it literally reaches through the screen and affects the viewer too.

  • ★★★★½ review by nickfadden on Letterboxd

    Some of the most intense and moving scenes I have ever seen, in person or on screen. You cannot ignore your own emotions when a circle of convicts demands you examine them. A great film about fathers and sons and the festering nature of unexplored trauma.

  • ★★★★★ review by Musanna Ahmed on Letterboxd

    One of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen and the most emotionally taxing film I’ve seen in a long time. A masterful and extremely effective piece of observational filmmaking that is built with incredibly powerful, raw, intense scenes of men who have bottled up their emotions for far too long finally having a space to release them. It seems like it’s the answer to successfully rehabilitating convicts and put an end to emotional stoicism that’s contributed to the toxic masculinity that’s present in our society so I think it’s a film that deserves attention at the federal level so the programme can be employed all throughout the country, in institutions beyond prisons, maybe across the whole world, for the benefit of everyone.

  • ★★★★½ review by Libby Banks on Letterboxd

    Fantastic documentary about a group therapy intensive in Folsom State Prison. Lots of stuff to unpack here about toxic masculinity and the ability of our justice system to rehabilitate vs punish, but I mostly like it for being the most stirring portrayal of the transformative power of group therapy that I've seen on screen. Super-recommend.

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