Posted under: EIFF
When it comes to drama, David Gordon Green is an aficionado and master for the genre, although in recent years his career has transitioned into comedy, with some of his films including 2008's hilarious Pineapple Express and 2011's The Sitter but, with the recent Joe, it's clear that Green hasn't lost his touch for his roots.
Starring Nicolas Cage as the titular character, the film sees the ex-con try and keep a lid on his anger and violence through constant smoking and hard work. But when he meets unordinary teen, Gary (Tye Sheridan), the two connect and controlling his anger, meaning staying out of jail and serious trouble, gets harder and harder as this innocent, hard working boy's life is threatened by his abusive, alcoholic father.
The opening scene of the film sees Gary giving his drunk father (Gary Poulter) a pep talk, whilst they sit on a railway track, about how he can't abandon his family this time and about how he has to try and stop drinking but in the end it just gets him slapped before his father walks away, only to get beat up.
It's a dark scene but is played out so that, silently, it's quite comical.
It's unusual as there is a large sense of ambiguity to everything going on but it intrigues the viewer and, quickly, makes the realise the father's horrid nature and Gary's role in being the man of the house.
It shows that Gordon Green is a natural director as it sets up the film quickly whilst being a scene that is almost mesmerising, like the camera was in the right place at the right time, to capture the brutality of this complicated relationship between father and son. He's a talented director and this movie really shows it, with it's many beautifully captured scenes. There's a scene with Cage and Sheridan, where the two are drink and trying to find Cage's dog. It's where the two really connect and it's sweet, funny and moving.
Cage has had a rich career, with some ace performances (Adaptation) and even an Academy Award for Leaving Las Vegas but, on the other side, he has had some not poor performances, winning Razzie's for worst actor (Ghost Rider).
His performance as Joe is excellent. His hardcore, deathly stares, his rough accent (occasionally hard to understand) and his unpredicatble actions make him unforgettable. He really pours genuine, heartfelt acting into the role, perfectly conveying the tough lone-wolf. The viewer almost feels sympathy towards him at times. One of the more remarkable things about his performance is how he responds to the chaos that Green surrounds him with, always trying to stay calm. He's a live wire and this is enlivened by his interactions with the raw members of public thrown in with him. Plus, his beard is badass and really works for him.
This really is one of Cage's best performances.
But, it is Mud star Sheridan as 15 year-old Gary that is the highlight. He is powerful as the teen and his fight for his sister and his mother is emotional and he portrays this innocent, caring character REALLY well and his chemistry with Nic is incredible and strengthens this neat little indie even more.
In the film's final stages, Joe sets out with Gary, to help him, and save his sister Dorothy and the chemistry blows up and the scene, where Joe dies for Gary, is compelling and powerful.
Joe is a remarkable indie that, with its top quality acting and clever, powerful plot, will have you on edge. It makes for a memorable and unmissable trip to the cinema.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.