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 Simon Di Berardino on Letterboxd

    After it ended I called my Dad and told him I loved him.

  • ★★★★½ review by Ole Johnny Fossås on Letterboxd

    Many films deal with toxic masculinity in some way, too many perhaps, and when you have here a documentary that deals with prisoners it's easy to write it off, before going into it, as just another one of those film that take advantage of "others" such as criminals to send some vague surface-y messages about how masculinity can be toxic.

    However, this is not that kind of film. This deals with toxic masculinity in several forms head-on and it quickly becomes apparent that it's not the prisoners that are the persons of interest here (as far too often in documentaries) - it's the volunteers that signed up for this experience. Regular guys with issues any person can find themselves in who have no idea what they've gotten themselves into: an assault on the defences put up by toxic masculinity deep inside them. The volunteers, as well as the viewers to some degree, are challenged on the issue of being vulnerable - or becoming vulnerable.

    Through this, the film gives us a good understanding, or at least a "shared experience", of how toxic masculinity can work on people. About how, when it manifests itself into survival strategies, it can lead to suicidal thoughts, violence or lack of self-esteem. And that this can happen to anyone who feel like they are forced to suppress their issues inside them in order to be a man. This film was an emotional ride for me and in the current sociocultural landscape, where echo chambers create new waves of toxic masculinity on the Internet, it feels like pretty essential watching.

  • ★★★★ review by susann on Letterboxd


  • ★★★★★ review by Felix Hubble: Boy Donkey on Letterboxd

    A basically flawless film, doubtful I'll see anything better anytime soon.

  • ★★★★ review by sarahdobbs on Letterboxd

    Fascinating and moving documentary about a group therapy session at Folsom Prison. Within twenty minutes one of the participants was crying, and by the end, so was I. It's kind of impressive how un-staged this feels (that one guy with his address written on a cardboard sign aside) and even more impressive that they found so many genuinely interesting people capable of being so articulate and vulnerable.

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