Thursday, February 19, 2015

Film Review: Joe (2013)

Joe (Review)
United States/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes

"It's ultimately very effective."

Joe (Nicolas Cage), a foreman with a troubled past, takes a young man, Gary (Tye Sheridan), under his wing.

Joe follows the titular character as he develops a father-like relationship with Gary. Gary is a young drifter with an alcoholic and abusive father, Wade (Gary Poulter). However, Gary is a hard-working optimist who will do anything to support his family. Joe is a hard-working man with inner-demons. The bulk of the film follows Joe and Gary as they interact -- very refreshing character development. The ending, however, felt rushed and disappointing. Suddenly, a conflict arises and resolves within minutes -- I didn't like this approach.

I also didn't enjoy Willie, played by Ronnie Gene Blevins. This character serves as an antagonist, but he has little history and he almost feels like a villain. By that, I mean: Willie comes off as a villain from a superhero film, very eccentric and bizarre. He didn't really fit the film. Fortunately, the rest of the film is superb. I loved the focus on character. In turn, I was engaged and invested with the characters -- I actually cared about the outcome. It's also a very raw drama that deals with real issues. The social and family issues are genuinely compelling. It's ultimately very effective.

The acting is also splendid. This is Nicolas Cage's best in a long time -- a very powerful performance. Tye Sheridan is equally, if not more, impressive -- he's very charismatic. However, I think Gary Poulter stole the show -- one of the best supporting performances of 2013. The film is shot very well. The music has a very soft yet effective presence -- I liked it. Director David Gordon Green crafts a very effective drama. I loved the focus on character, but felt one character didn't fit and there was some filler.

Overall, Joe is a great film. It's a very effective character-driven drama thanks to the strong story and powerful performances. It kept me seated and hooked from beginning to end. The ending was slightly disappointing, there was one misplaced character, and there was some filler, though. They're minor flaws compared to the rest of the film. Anyway, I highly recommend it.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, some brief sex and nudity.

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