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The Last Rites of Joe May

  • Film
  • 2 out of 5 stars
Dennis Farina, Meredith Droeger and Jamie Anne Allman in The Last Rites of Joe May
Dennis Farina, Meredith Droeger and Jamie Anne Allman in The Last Rites of Joe May

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Does anybody play an old-school man's man more convincingly than Dennis Farina? A Chicago cop for almost 20 years before transitioning into showbiz, this character actor brings a lived-in masculinity to every hard-bitten detective and hardboiled mobster role; you can almost smell the musky aftershave and yesterday's steak dinner wafting off the screen. Seeing Farina in a lead role is, regrettably, the only reason to check out this tale of a lowlife past his prime. Once upon a time, Joe May considered himself a high-plains grifter among Chicago's small-fry hoods; age, illness and a fashion sense stuck around 1973 have turned him into a joke. (He and Eddie Coyle should start a support group for underworld sad sacks.) Thankfully, his old apartment's new tenants---a single-mother nurse (Allman) and her daughter (Droeger)---let Joe crash in the spare room. Then Mom's cop boyfriend starts doling out shiners. Let's see, we've got a surrogate family in trouble, a domestic-abuser villain and a guy looking for one last shot at redemption. You can guess the rest.

A peripheral indie-cinema presence, writer-director Joe Maggio (Virgil Bliss) gives Farina ample room to display Windy City world-weariness and a Camille-worthy cough. It's a textbook lion-in-winter performance, struggling against a movie cursed with a tin ear for tough-guy dialogue and every pulp-loser clich imaginable. The more the veteran actor strives to give Joe a final dose of funereal dignity, the more the film around him seems intent on deep-sixing its MVP.

Follow David Fear on Twitter: @davidlfear

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Written by David Fear
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