Director: David Gordon Green
Duration: 117 mins (US)
Nicolas Cage doesn’t help himself a lot of the time. There was the horror of his Italian accent in the adaptation of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (a film that otherwise was unfairly maligned in the court of public opinion), then there was the heresy that was The Wicker Man remake – ouch, it makes you shudder to even think of it.
On the flipside, there were the films that marked him out as a star of note, be it Moonstruck, Con Air, Face/Off and Leaving Las Vegas.
It is fair to say that his career is marked by the consistency of his inconsistency. With the rough n’ ready grit of the cliché of the American South put firmly in place by director David Gordon Green, which Nic Cage do we get in Joe?
Truth be told, this is a solid performance and a broadly gripping film. Directed with an assuredness, there is a strong sense of purpose that leaps from the traps from the get-go. Cage plays the titular Joe; an ex-con. He is a man with a dark past and questionable morals. Gary (Tye Sheridan) is a 15 year old neighbour-of-sorts. He suffers from an abusive family dynamic. With an impressive sense of work ethic, he looks to Joe for employment within his tree-cutting firm. An unlikely bond forms, as Joe becomes an unexpected role model. Gary’s father won’t abate in his abuse.
Sourced from the late-Larry Brown’s 1991 novel of the same name, it is an engaging picture that could easily be overlooked. That would be a pity. It has a firm aesthetic, whilst the positive shade of the green landscape offers a distinct contrast to the murky and muggy shades of the characters that nestle within its splendour. The narrative is wound with tension and the spiralling emotions bubble with a satisfying degree of control.
This could be regarded as a minor piece, but irrespective of that, it is one that deserves time and attention.
Joe is released on DVD and Blu Ray on 6th October 2014.
Here is the trailer: