Title – Joe (2013)
Director – David Gordon Green (Snow Angels)
Cast – Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter, Ronnie Gene Blevins
Plot – Based on Larry Brown’s book, Joe Centres on teenage drifter Gary (Sheridan) who takes up a job with ex-con Joe (Cage) in the backwoods of America. Gary’s drifting life is often upturned by his alcoholic and abusive father G-Daawg (Poulter) which doesn’t sit well with Joe as his friendship with Gary grows.
“I don’t know who I am, but I know what keeps me alive is restraint. Keeps me out of jail. Keeps me from hurting people”
Review by Eddie on 10/09/2014
David Gordon Green is an extremely interesting director/producer who has over his career refused to be pigeonholed into any one corner of filmmaking. On the one hand you have Green’s work on such indie’s as George Washington and Undertow (Undertow was even produced by illusive Texan auteur Terrence Malick) then you have his forays (and often missteps) into gross out comedy with films such as Pineapple Express and Your Highness, then his often fascinating work on HBO comedy classic Eastbound and Down that despite skewing to genial humour at every chance managed to be sweet and touching against all odds. With Green’s latest film Joe it hearkens back to his early work and more recent Prince Avalanche yet its most recommendable element is the appearance of an intense can’t take your eyes off him performance by Nicolas Cage and another turn from young actor Tye Sheridan that showcases his abundant talent.
Joe the film doesn’t gel in the way it needed to become an all-round top shelf quality film yet in amongst a lost and at times aimless story we have the presence of Cage as Joe, an ex-con who amounts to a foreboding, intense and fiery presence. Cage has not been better in years and it could even be argued that his not been better since his almost long forgotten Oscar win in Leaving Las Vegas. Joe is a layered character; a person not easy to warm to yet there is an underlying sympathy to be found in the man and Cage draws every last element from the role. As a perfect addition to Cage’s long overdue return to form Tye Sheridan (fresh from his award worthy turn in Mud) brings the goods as mistreated and conflicted teen Gary, who wants nothing more than to provide for his family and work for it. These two actors create one of the year’s best double acts yet it’s within their relationship that the film falters most with a frustrating inability to get the most out of it.
Green certainly knows how to construct a film and his casting of many unprofessional locals ads to the films authenticity (as a by note Sheridan’s father in the film G-Daawg is played by homeless man Gary Poulter who sadly died not long after the film was finished and in his only big screen performance was a true revelation) yet at the core of this story there needed to be more development between Joe and Gary for a large portion of the movies run time there are countless scenes that ad up to nothing in the overall story arc and with more time spent between Joe and Gary you get the feeling the films emotional punch would of amounted to a much more cohesive whole. There are not many things more annoying in a film sense than lost opportunity and you get an abundance of that here in Joe despite its many finely tuned scenes.
Too cold for its own good in many aspects, Joe is a film absolutely made what it is by its actors, from the resurgence of Cage, the increasing confidence of Sheridan and the raw realism of first time actor Poulter, this is clearly one of the year’s most memorable ensembles. A unique journey that you can’t help but feel had more to give; Joe is still a movie worth your time and another interesting slice of life tale from the unpredictable and lively David Gordon Green.
3 and a half dogs off the leash out of 5