HBO’s “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island” takes a sobering look at the job crisis

In the opening moments of HBO’s disquieting new documentary Hard Times: Lost on Long Island, balding, bespectacled Alan Fromm — an unemployed corporate trainer — catalogs the catastrophes he survived prior to losing his job a year earlier: struck by lightning at 15; heart trouble at 21; in the World Trade Center during the 1993 bombing; on the Long Island Rail Road when Colin Ferguson gunned down 25 passengers nine months later; and in the north tower on 9/11. By comparison, he says, unemployment doesn’t seem so bad.

But it’s getting there.

Fromm often gathers with a rotating crew of fellow job seekers for coffee and commiseration. Among them are Anne Strauss, a jobless PR exec, and her husband Mel, an unemployed banker; former Wall Street securities executive Nick Puccio and his wife Regina; and chiropractor David Hartstein, whose business is failing, and his wife Heather, a laid-off teacher.

As the ensuing hour unfolds — and over a cruel backdrop of news reports that announce further economic disaster and chastise those caught in its grip — the four families and others share escalating struggles that include dramatic health events, fruitless interviews and soul-rending battles to keep their modest family homes.

The stats against them are staggering:

• The suburbs are now America’s fastest-growing area of poverty
• The average length of unemployment is nine months — a national all-time high
• There are four job seekers for every available job
• More than 5 million personal bankruptcies have been filed since 2008
• More than 6 million homes have fallen into foreclosure since 2008

Stark, clear-eyed and never mawkish — with a heartbreaking afterword — the film, from Emmy-winning director/producer Marc Levin, presents a disquieting look at how close those of us who have everything could be to losing it all.

Hard Times: Lost on Long Island premieres on HBO Monday July 9 at 9/8CT

1 Comment

  1. This film is the living proof of the saying, “Don’t talk about someone who’s down..COMFORT them in thier sorrow, for THIS old world is a funny old world, it COULD be YOUR TURN TOMORROW!” We who work , are usually just 3 paychecks from homelessness!!

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About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.