|Index||3 reviews in total|
"Waging a Living" tells four inter-cut stories of strife and struggle
from the streets of America, as it examines the many nuances of being
part of the growing population of 'working poor'. Each story becomes
more eye-opening than the last, as we get to intimately know the four
people the film spotlights. Overall the film shows a faulty system rife
with one catch-22 situation after another, where attempts to move away
from poverty only prove to create a new type of poverty.
The DVD of "Waging a Living" contains a short film called "Rosevelt's America" that feels less like a companion piece and more like a missing storyline from the film, and does not have its own reference on IMDb. It was made by the same filmmakers as "Waging a Living", and it follows a good natured Liberian refugee who also struggles from paycheck to paycheck, but sees the U.S. system with an outsider's optimistic perspective, full of hope and promise. On the other hand "Waging a Living" offers a far gloomier picture, so in a matter of speaking if they are taken together a much broader scope of the situation is revealed.
Waging a Living looks at the lives of several people who feel that it
is difficult for themselves to get ahead or pay the bills even though
they have full-time employment. A waitress, security guard, CNA and an
elder care activity leader face the challenges of rising costs of
living, raising dependent children, social services regulations and
just plain life.
The documentary's strongest asset is that instead of the snapshots usually seen on the nightly news, these people are followed for several years so we can see the steady stream of immediate problems along with the slower solutions such as education, unionization and patient persistence.
Watching the movie filled me with a combination of gratitude for my own circumstances and insecurity from knowing that I am not too far away from living paycheck to paycheck myself.
My only concern about the film is that it is imbalanced by focusing on the external causes of their conditions but does not point out as much what choices these people made in the past to place themselves in these positions. For instance, we are not told why one person lost his job, or why disability claims were not taken earlier, or why they have so many children and so on. Then again, perhaps the filmmakers thought that "blaming the victim" was unwarranted.
Lastly, two of the four people are members of the same union, even though they live on different coasts, and are both shown as active union members. I wonder how these people came to be chosen for the documentary, and if their union somehow was involved in the making of the film.
I found this to be a fairly even handed approach to the topic. (I suppose in reality this is difficult to gauge - not knowing how much footage was not used.) I do think there was a bit of emotional sensationalism employed early on in the movie. Yet over all I felt the director did an adequate job letting the people and their situations speak for themselves. By simply presenting these real life people and their struggles - without trying to judge or preach or even suggest solutions - it was left for the audience to be moved. And ultimately, this film stirred my heart. True, we often like to have problems packaged and solutions laid out before us - but this problem certainly has no easy answers. Thus I appreciated the director's decision to merely attempt to bring awareness to the ever growing disparity between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. It is unquestionably tragic that so many Americans (and people all over the world for that matter) can be driven, hard working people, and yet struggle to provide the basic necessities for their loved ones. This documentary reminded me how richly God has blessed me and how great a responsibility it is to share that blessing with as many people as possible. I hope many people will see this film.
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