Synopsis: A gripping mix of friendship, violence and redemption erupts in the contemporary South in this adaptation of Larry Brown’s novel, celebrated at once for its grit and its deeply moving core. Directed by David Gordon Green, JOE film brings Academy Award (R) winner Nicolas Cage back to his indie roots in the title role as the hard-living, hot-tempered, ex-con Joe Ransom, who is just trying to dodge his instincts for trouble – until he meets a hard-luck kid, (MUD’s Tye Sheridan) who awakens in him a fierce and tender-hearted protector. (c) Roadside
What I liked: Nicolas Cage’s performance really stood out to me and what I took away from Joe. He was a revelation and hinted at the glory days of his past. What he puts into this role will land him better movies with more challenging performances. This will be a stepping stone and a turning point within his career. Also, I was caught off guard how dark and moody Joe was which I liked. The brutality of some scenes is tough to watch at times which I could tell from the audience. Also the movie is full of muddled, gritty symbolism of character development within the narrative. The plot has interconnected characters and develop in way I wasn’t expecting (a moment involving a man fighting with a homeless man jarred me). Tye Sheridan was a pleasure to see on screen and I’m looking forward to see his other work hoping he wont be type cast as the Southern, rustic damaged boy.
Around a year ago, Mud shocked critics, audiences, and box office pundits by grossing $22 million in limited release while eventually competing for attention at megaplexes alongside the latest installments of Iron Man and Star Trek. It was about a young boy isolated from his parents escaping to the woods with a Southern (somewhat Gothic) mood. He befriends a troubled man and criminals hinder their relationship. To no fault of its own, the new movie Joe is very similar to Mud in plot elements and character situations. The same studio Roadside Attractions is releasing the movie in April as was the case with Mud. And like Matthew McCaughey in Mud, the most noticeable actor in Joe, Nicolas Cage delivers one of his best performances in several years out-of-nowhere. This solid performance unexpectedly sneaks up on viewers. The comparisons stop there. Yet, I feel like Mud is lingering around as Roadside made the decision to release Joe almost a year later.
It isn’t fair for me to compare Mud to Joe because they are different movies. Joe is an adaptation of a novel directed by the stylistically diverse David Gordon Green while Mud was an original screenplay and second feature from Jeff Nichols (one that deserved an Oscar nomination). Of course, David Gordon Green has a long diverse resume of quirky indies and cheeky mainstream comedies. Joe is a good movie, but Mud will be a classic. Maybe I am out of line for comparing the two and audiences can decide for themselves. However I will not hold judgment against Joe. It stands well on its own merits as a grim, rustic, old fashioned Southern Gothic.
Joe – 6.5 out of 10
The showing of Joe I attended was supported by Colorado Public Radio via the CPR Landmark Movie Night program, which was developed to thank listeners who donate $365/yr or a dollar a day to CPR. When donating this amount, you are eligible for two tickets each month to an exclusive screening of a soon-to-be released film at the Mayan, the Esquire or the Chez Artiste. Colorado Public Radio initiated the program to help support Denver’s local independent movie theaters while also giving our listeners the added benefit of being exposed to new films that similarly seek to inform, enlighten and entertain.
For more information about the CPR Landmark Movie Night, please contact Christine Andresen at [email protected]