Cert: Club; Selected cinemas
For sheer intensity, it is unlikely many documentary features this year will match this Grand Jury Prize winner at SXSW Film Festival which sits you down beside convicted killers and probes some deep, dark psychological fissures.
Besides the visceral nature of its subject matter — a four-day intensive group-therapy session held biannually in Folsom State Prison that involves members of the public — The Work is also rare in format too. Co-directors Gethin Aldous and Jairus Mcleary adopt a strict fly-on-the-wall approach that picks up hidden sensations and leaves space for the audience to form their own opinions about this unorthodox and all-consuming psychotherapeutic technique.
The filmmakers mostly frame one particular circle of participants within the workshop comprising murderers and former gang members, facilitators and a trio of members of the public who apply to take part.
For the inmates — most of whom are well versed by this stage in the methodology — ‘The Work’, as it’s called, is an ongoing treatment. Perhaps more intriguing is what the outside volunteers are seeking to gain from it all and, amazingly, just how wholly they are ingested by the process.
Over the 90 minutes, these troubled souls are broken down and