Film Review | Working Class Heroes (2015)

Film run-time: 19 minutes | Starring Tom McBeath, Nicholas Lea, Bart Anderson
Directed by Tom Scholte, Written by Shaun Aquiline, Produced by Ian Harmon

Working Class Heroes“, a 2015 short film by Tom Scholte, is a portraiture of struggle amid a possibility of renewal—emotionally and economically. Entrenched in a compromise between ennui and employment security, several unionized men are finding that the bedrock on which their assurances are built may not be as resilient as they thought. A warehouse staff reckons with a company merger that may threaten their jobs.

Divided into three concurrent storylines exploring the family life of long-time warehouse workers, the film deftly depicts these employees’ rooted work-life balance. Through a juxtaposition of the reliable but monotonous work, and the mixed dynamics of familial demands, Scholte illustrates that each household has come to heavily depend on the hitherto secure income that they expect from their positions.

Frustration grows, naturally, on news that unemployment may become a reality in an overhaul of the company. Materially, the men depend on their livelihood to supply provisions for their families. This may defer in importance, however, to the spiritual component of their jobs. When the central narrative of purpose is taken away, intensified by financial attrition, an impotence takes place that deprives them of a power of autonomy.

When that autonomy is contingent on a power balance kept in equipoise, in large part, by what money can buy, a re-evaluation of the chosen arrangements must be undertaken. With pecuniary considerations removed, the spirit remains the sole sustenance of conditioned relationships; luckily for these men, their families repay in kind in emotional support. For a world that seems erosive in ethics, it is a welcoming change from the indifference of cut-throat corporate interests: it is, in quintessence, a fundamentally human response.

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