JOE – Rated R

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JOE – Rated R

As we meet 15 year old Gary (Tye Sheridan), he is trying to distance himself from his alcoholic, abusive father Wade (Gary Poulter), who seems to be down on his luck and finds joy in keeping his family in misery right along with him.

Gary crosses paths with Joe (Nicholas Cage), an ex-con turned lumber foreman, who takes care of his crew, but seems to be in self-destruct mode, most of the time, in his own life.    Realizing that working for Joe might be a way to help his mother and sister get out of the poverty stricken existence they are enduring, Gary asks Joe for a job.  Joe decides to take him under his wing and teaches him the ropes.  As their friendship seems to take hold, Joe takes Gary under his wing, as he knows that his father is abusing him and stealing the money he receives from Joe weekly.

Wade is not enjoying this new found friendship that Gary is having with Joe, and continues to abuse him, and the entire family.  Joe too is struggling in his own life, trying to make sense of his self-destructive ways…….

Will Gary be able to get away from his abusing father and save his mother and sister in the process?  Will the friendship Joe and Gary have formed save them both from the hellish existence they have come to expect from life?  Or will Joe’s attempt to save Gary, bring even more heartache and destruction to his own life?

I give JOE a B-:  If you read the synopsis for the film before viewing, you know this is not going to be a pick-me-up movie by any means.  I also was not very fond of Nicholas Cage and some of his past work, going in.  But I was pleasantly surprised by Cage’s character in this film – even though he is definitely distant, untrusting, and self-destructive, Joe is also caring, remorseful and nurturing.  I know it is hard to think that one character can be so multi-faceted, but he is.  I also enjoyed the chemistry between Cage and Tye Sheridan.   This young actor is going to be one to watch.  He was so genuine and “real” in this film, that I literally cannot wait to see what he ends up doing next, having played opposite some of the BIG NAMES in film already in his young career.  From Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain in THE TREE OF LIFE to Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon in MUD, he is learning the ropes from some of the best in the business, so take note; he should be unstoppable as his career progresses.  And I must add too, that after seeing Cage in JOE, I am rethinking my feelings on him as an actor, as this character and his portrayal of him, gave me a whole new perspective on Cage and his acting abilities.

Kathy Kaiser