Film, Drama
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Adapted from Mississippi writer Larry Brown’s 1991 novel, ‘Joe’ is a moody, melancholic throwback to the dramas that first gained director David Gordon Green (‘George Washington’) attention, and which he ditched to make stoner comedies like ‘Pineapple Express’. A subdued Nicolas Cage (clearly relieved to be playing a person instead of a nervous tic on legs) is terrific as Joe, an ex-con who runs a semi-illegal business poisoning trees for corner-cutting corporations. That said, he’s a good boss, paying his staff on time and employing anyone in need. When troubled 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan, the kid from ‘Mud’) crosses his path, there’s an instant father/son connection – something the boy could use, considering his own dad (Gary Poulter, exceptionally scary) is a roaring-mean drunk.

Joe and Gary’s mentor-protégé relationship is the heart of the tale, and Cage and Sheridan have a natural rapport that holds your attention and tugs (not too manipulatively) at the heartstrings. The film also sketches in the economically depressed rural South. Green captures the beauty of the landscape even as he populates it with people on their uppers (many of them played by real locals). The movie is its best in these seemingly improvised side vignettes (there’s a particularly memorable one in which Joe shows a guy how to properly skin a deer). Yet Green, as is his wont, too often strains for poetic effect with a flowery voiceover and tone-deaf interactions – like those between Joe and his latest short-term girlfriend – that undercut the genuineness.

By: Keith Uhlich

Release details

Release date: Friday July 25 2014
Duration: 117 mins

Cast and crew

Director: David Gordon Green
Screenwriter: Gary Hawkins
Cast: Nicolas Cage
Tye Sheridan
Gary Poulter

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:6
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
2 people listening

A hard film to watch for a number of reasons but worth persevering- well acted and brutally honest!

A mess of a film this one.Plot lines confused and blurred.It seems to have been made up as they filmed.All the American cliques are there.Ugly brutal men in a one horse town,yet the place is full of emotionally wounded gorgeous women.The men are macho and the women inconsequential.The acting is rather uneven,veering from impressive, going down to Benny Hill.This is Cages best role thus far,but his normal low standards means his acting is still below par.The plots descends into a quagmire of nuttiness and by the end is daft romantic nonsense.A tighter script was needed,the director needed to be replaced to stop the film's plot wandering off in all directions and finally someone with greater gravitas was needed to take on Nicholas Cage's part...

Nicolas Cage's portrayal of Joe is akin to some of his most memorable performances, and while this Academy Award winning actor's reputation has suffered in recent years (Ghost Rider anyone?), the high calibre of this piece gives Cage the footing to return to the top of his game. Based on the novel of the same name by Larry Brown, this film resonates with many of the themes found in Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road', especially with the focus on two characters' struggles in their far from ideal world. And while both are laced with product placement for Coca-Cola, this acts as a poignant reminder of the varying quality of life for those living in the modern age. What's more, the work of the supporting cast, especially Tye Sheridan as Gary, evokes empathy and reflection on the complexity of what makes us all unique. Joe is a mesmerizing piece that focuses on many deep rooted relational issues, and while some may criticise it for its premise, the attention to detail in every frame left me entranced from start to finish.

Joe is a moody dark movie. I found at times hard to understand the dialogue due to the southern mumbling drawl. However, the main three actors gave outstanding performances. The best being Gary Poulter cast as the abusive alcoholic father of a 15 year old boy, (played by Tye Sheridan.)

Nicholas Cage gives a convincing lead performance as the troubled Joe.

I wouldn't recommend this as a movie to take your date to. I'd wait for it to come out on Netflix or DVD if I'm brutally honest.

A great performance from Nicolas Cage. Violent bits and difficult to understand dialogue at times from the underclass of America. Very sad end.

A brilliant performance from Nicholas Cage as Joe and also a great supporting cast joining him in giving us a gripping but periodically rather violent story from the deep south of America. A bitter sweet story line, but one not to miss for sure.

A return to form for Nicholas Cage, showing his early promise with a thoughtful and well-rounded performance, moving away from his tendency to chew up the scenery. A good supporting cast joined him in giving us a gripping but periodically violent story. Not what I was expecting but I am glad I saw it.

Joe is a slow moving, dark and sad depiction of life in rural, underclass America - not a date movie!

I loved the movie - it a mix of a sad, sweet and brutal story. The acting I thought was really good. 

Oh yes. Just returned from the Time Out Card preview screening. This movie is blue-collar-rough. Nicolas Cage is superb. Really worked for me, although I sensed some around me found it a little brutal at times.