US 90 Mins
Joe (Nicholas Cage) is a hard-living, chain-smoking, heavy-drinking man living in Mississippi, running a work crew who are poisoning trees in the forest so they can be cleared for a pine tree plantation. Gary (Tye Sheridan) comes to work for him, a fifteen-year-old who is trying to support his family despite the selfish behavior of his destructively alcoholic father, Wade (Gary Poulter).
A couple of days after watching Joe, it keeps playing in my mind. It was such a hard film.
The slow pace dragged out the pain that the characters are going through and raised the torment for the audience – and this was particularly painful during the scenes with the evil Willie-Russell (Ronnie Gene Blevins). Joe loses control a few times and this would have been the perfect place for some crazy Nicholas Cage acting, but instead it was a considered and sinister release of the rage we see building up throughout the rest of the film. Tye Sheridan is rapidly building a great rep, and I hope that he has good support and is able to continue to pick strong roles and build an excellent career.
I was surprised to learn that, apart from a few of the key actors, most characters are played by non-professional actors, including Gary Poulter who played Wade. I find this type of casting often doesn’t work as I become distracted by the poor acting, but not in this film. Wow. Just… wow.
Joe is screening at 9pm on Monday August 4 at Hoyts and at 6:30pm on Thursday August 7 at The Capital. Book tickets at MIFF http://miff.com.au/program/search or call 9662 3722