Wednesday, April 16, 2014

[Review] Joe

After making his big budget breakthrough with the hit Pineapple Express, and the not-so hits The Sitter and Your Highness, David Gordon Green returned to his indie roots with last year's subtle and bizarre highway worker drama, Prince Avalanche. Green continues down that road with Joe, a gritty Southern tale of violence and unlikely bonds. The lead cast includes a surprisingly top-form Nicolas Cage, as well as budding star Tye Sheridan (Tree of Life, Mud).

Joe (Cage) is a rugged forest worker. One day, Gary (Sheridan) stumbles upon Joe and his crew and asks if he and his dad can get a job. Gary is hired on the spot and fits in well. However, when he brings his deadbeat father the next day, the father causes problems. They aren't invited back, and then Joe witnesses the father beat Gary. Joe re-hires Gary and becomes protective of him. Meanwhile, there's an ongoing beef between Joe and a scarred faced local. The Southern Gothic vibes set in as trouble brews, punches are thrown and shots are fired.

It's an engrossing and harsh story, making last year's Prince Avalanche seem minor in comparison. Joe strikes hard emotionally and visually. Green seems to have taken a keen interest in natural lighting and the asymmetry of wilderness. Every character is pushed to their edge, and it's easy to get the feeling that there will be unhappy, messy endings.

Joe shares a lot of similarities with last year's excellent Mud, which is both a good and a bad thing. Good because Mud is so good, but bad simply because Joe has to follow it. With that said, Joe is surely great and different enough to stand on its own. Nicolas Cage gives an impressively well-rounded and challenging performance, and sometimes it isn't difficult to forget that it's actually him. Joe is one of the best of films of his career, but I'm not quite yelling NicCage-aissance yet.


No comments:

Post a Comment