Review: Joe (2014)

by Brian Eggert
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David Gordon Green

Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Gary Poulter, Adriene Mishler


117 min.

With Joe, director David Gordon Green returns to his roots with another rough-hewn indie drama set in the American South. Before making several Hollywood gross-out comedies like Pineapple Express and Your Highness, Green earned a reputation as an important voice in American cinema with titles like George Washington, Undertow, and Snow Angels. Green's film of Larry Brown’s 1991 novel of the same name saturates its audience in a dirt-poor small town populated almost exclusively by aggressive drunkards, hard-luck cases, and miserable people living in less than optimal conditions. But the film's unforgiving, often grating portrayal of Southern waste is redeemed by thoughtful performances from Nicolas Cage and his younger costar Tye Sheridan.

Screenwriter Gary Hawkins moved the story from Brown's Mississippi location to Texas, where Green's last film, the redeeming indie comedy Prince Avalanche took place. Joe  begins on the train tracks with Sheridan's teenaged Gary scorning his worthless, downright evil father Wade (Gary Poulter, who died just after the production wrapped), a crusty, abusive bastard and alcoholic with no intent to support his family. Sheridan has played this role before—twice, in fact—first for Terrence Malick in The Tree of Life as Brad Pitt's middle son... Read the full article

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