Waging a Living

Rated NR 85 minutes 2006

A beautifully simple, deeply affecting documentary about four members of America's working poor. Co-director Roger Weisberg (Sound and Fury) introduces us to Jean Reynolds, Mary Venittelli, Jerry Longoria, and Barbara Brooks, relatable and articulate people struggling to meet their bills despite working full-time jobs. None of them wants to accept public assistance, but most must: Of course, if they happen to be blessed with even a meager raise, they lose their benefits. ("We call it 'hustling backwards,'" Barbara explains.) The beauty of Waging a Living is that, with the exception of a few titles used to supply useful statistics, it allows the subjects to tell their stories. There is no preaching; not a single talking head reminds us of the widening gap between rich and poor or the criminal insufficiency of our public assistance programs. Instead, we meet brave, honest people, trying to create better lives for their children and, instead, facing disease, poverty, and homelessness. Our connection with them, and with their experience, is more than enough to convince.

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Director: Roger Weisberg

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