Starring: Nicholas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Adriene Mishler
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Synopsis: An ex-con, who is the unlikeliest of role models, meets a 15-year-old boy and is faced with the choice of redemption or ruin.
I read some decent reviews before I watched Joe, and it has been on my ‘to watch list’ for some time, so I was optimistic about it. Whilst it didn’t entirely live up to my optimism, it was a decent effort anyway.
Tye Sheridan plays Gary, a dirt poor teenager growing up in a broken home with his spaced out mum and crazy, violent and downright mean father (Poulter), who thinks he is some sort of rapper called G-Daawg. Gary wants to make something of himself so goes in search of work, and finds, in the middle of the woods, Joe (Nicholas Cage). Joe is an ex-con who has a tree poisoning business. He takes on Gary and they start to bond. Except violence for both of them is never far away. Gary is regularly beaten by his old man, and Joe is just a volcano waiting to erupt.
The latest film from David Gordon Green sees him head back in the direction of those small town, poverty stricken family dramas he started his career with, such as George Washington, Undertow, All The Real Girls and Snow Angels. They garnered him critical acclaim before he moved on to some ho-hum comedies. In the last couple of years though, possibly now he has some money from said comedies, he has turned his hand back to drama. First with Prince Avelanche (dramedy perhaps) and now with Joe.
It’s a slow build of a film, one that isn’t going to be for everyone. It has long periods where nothing much seems to happen, and then the silence is broken with some sort of violent act. Cage, an actor whom I usually can’t stand at all, was superb as Joe, the convict with a big heart and a temper to match. He seems to be tolerated by the local law enforcement, and he genuinely seems to be trying to keep a lid on his anger. Of course it spills over in the end, but more out of affection and a want to help Gary who he sees as his son. Tye Sheridan is superb again, as he was in the similar “Mud”. It will be interesting to see, after two ‘backwoods convict’ movies what else he goes on to star in.
Joe was a good watch, without being an extraordinary one. The acting and direction were superb, the cinematography fantastic in places, but ultimately the story was nothing I’ve not seen before. Still, it’s good to see David Gordon Green doing what he does best.