There’s always a dead month or two between the Oscars and the new crop of interesting films. Right on schedule we have Grand Budapest Hotel, which was absolutely hilarious in its dead-pan British delivery and this one, Joe.
Joe is a dramatic and often dark character study with a stripped down realism striking hard without apology. However, there are some priceless moments of well-delivered humour reminding me of the fast-paced dialogue in Sordid Lives. The story of a very flawed man becoming an unlikely hero for a boy in trouble is both heart-breaking and heart-warming but do not expect to leave the theatre feeling uplifted.
Acting is fantastic. Nicolas Cage has had hit or miss roles of late but his portrayal of Joe, a chain-smokin’, whisky-chuggin’, hooker-bangin’, foul-mouthed redneck with a heart of gold is a total hit. I’m rather liking his Sons of Anarchy look, too. Tye Sheridan does a surprisingly good job playing Gary, a good-hearted teen struggling with a situation way beyond his years. A convincing performance of a boy facing some give-up or man-up moments. Its a nice follow-up to his success in Mud.
The complete show stealer for me was Gary Poulter playing Sheridan’s deadbeat dad. Poulter was actually a homeless man plucked off the streets of Austin to play this role. His performance, obviously coming from hard knocks, was honest and riveting but difficult to watch. You definitely will not like his character. Sadly, Poulter died on the streets of Austin just after filming completed.
While odd, the music in this film pairs exceptionally well with the emotional states of the characters. I would go so far to say that without the music this film would not have made nearly the impact it did on me.
I’ll likely buy this when it rolls out to Blu-Ray, it will be Gary Poulter’s only performance on film and it was memorable.