The Work

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - CINEMA -

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

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