Scott Carney ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
When one thinks of pillars that bring communities together, a grocery store probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, as chronicled in the refreshing new documentary We the People: The Market Basket Effect, a chain of grocery stores does have the power to hold such relevance.
The aforementioned chain is the New England based Market Basket, whose firing of beloved CEO Arthur T. Demoulas in the summer of 2014 led to a massive strike, in which employees refused to work and regular customers boycotted the stores. This obviously led to great financial consequences for both parties, but the film does not dwell on this as much as it does the fierce determination and unrelenting optimism of those who participated in the strike.
It is at these points of the film where We the People triumphs. From protesting outside the store to creating social media campaigns, the filmmakers provide a bird’s eye view of the strike as it unfolds in real time, intercut with interviews of the people involved. These interviews cover a variety of different employees from a truck driver to a general manager, and establishes them as people worth rooting for. Furthermore, the film does a good job of presenting why Demoulas is a figure who is worth the struggle, devoting an entire section of the film to his various good deeds to his employers, as well as his business policy of treating everyone with the same amount of equality, regardless of position.
Where the film falls a little flat is the presenting of the history of the Demoulas family feud, which is what ultimately led to Arthur T’s firing by his cousin Arthur S. The history features many different figures and legal rulings, which can be hard to follow at times. The filmmakers also don’t do much to flesh out Arthur S. as much as they do Arthur T., although this is mostly due to Arthur S’s constant refusal to share his side of the story.
However, none of this really ruins the film, for it never forgets that the focus is on the people. Thus, We the People serves as a great underdog story, one that presents an optimistic note in an era where powerful business corporations control all.
Now if only viewers could see more stories like it.
Overall Grade: A