Martin Luther developed the idea that individuals could serve God by working well. Labor was made into something intrinsically meaningful with the advent of the ideal of craftsmanship. However, these understandings of work did not travel well to America. They only seemed to prevail in the hearts and minds of early twentieth century immigrants.
Mac, written and directed by John Turturro, offers a multidimensional look at work ethic. The film is set in Queens during the 1950s. Mac (John Turturro) is the eldest son in an Italian-American family. He has inherited his carpenter father's respect for a job well done. When Mac is fired by an unethical contractor for protesting the use of shoddy materials, he convinces his two brothers, Vico (Michael Badalucco) and Bruno (Carl Capotorto) to join him in an independent construction company.
While Mac is willing and eager to invest all of his time, energy, and passion in the building of four houses, his brothers have other priorities. Vico is a hedonist who is always on the lookout for fun. Bruno wants to spend more time on his interest in art.
At one point, Mac tells his supportive wife (Katherine Borowitz): "You know what I think happiness is? To love your job. Not many people know that that's why they take vacations but it's the truth. If you hate your work, you hate your life."
In the end, Mac learns the hard way that there is a high price to pay for such a vaulted and rigorous view of work. Mac is an intense drama about a serious subject that has been given short-shrift by most American filmmakers.