Genius? Crazy madman? It seems everyone has a different opinion on Nic Cage, some people like his schlocky output of dial it in tough guys or supernatural petrol heads, others like myself remember great roles like ‘Leaving Last Vegas’, ‘Bringing out the Dead’ and ‘Lord of War’. So to his latest ‘Joe’ an adaptation of Larry Brown’s bleak novel it tell the story of a family of drifters that end up crossing paths with Joe and what follows is a tale of redemption and ruin with Americas mid-west as a beautiful and brutal backdrop. This is small town America, people run on booze and fags, they work hard but they play harder and Joe the foreman with a local tree poisoning company is king. He has a past that bubbles under the surface always threatening to come to the surface, he drinks, fights, uses prostitutes and has seemingly resided himself to his path in life and is only focused on existing day to day until he meets Gary (Tye Sheridan star of the similar movie ‘Mud’) . Gary’s family drifts into town, could be any town, the story is the same, his alcoholic dad beats him and his mother and mute sister, he is a nasty piece of work (played brilliantly by homeless man Gary Poulter who died on the streets just weeks after the film was finished) he is definitely going to hell in a hand cart and doesn’t care who goes with. When Gary stumbles upon Joe in the woods he begs him for a job, maybe for escape or focus but soon a strange relationship develops between them, Joe seeing some of himself in the youngster and not wanting him to go the same way becomes over protective and Gary looks up to Joe who on the outside seems to have his shit together. But as with the nature of the film things start to get uneasy quite quickly and situations unravel at an alarming pace for a film that moves with such amazing grace. Incredibly well shot and even surreal at times the film is carried by the three central performances, Cage doing his best unhinged in ages (see the smile through the pain scene) Sheridan conveying such believable emotions for one so young and late Poulter carrying off evil drunk like it was second nature. To tell you too much would be to spoil how this drama unfolds, it’s a window on a world that we all would like to think doesn’t exist but clearly does and despite its low budget the film looks and sounds great. It certainly won’t be to everyone’s tastes but if you liked ‘Winter’s Bone’ or ‘Blue Ruin’ then watch Joe and if nothing else do it to see Cage in his best role in years.


This entry was posted in film review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s