From director David Gordon Green, responsible for comedies like Pineapple Express (2008) and Your Highness (2009), this time we get something completely different in the form of a drama with a very simple title Joe. However, the genre of drama is not completely atypical for Green, which fortunately can be seen from the attached, and in the introduction we can state that this is a very interesting and successful project, despite the somewhat weaker media coverage.
Joe’s film is actually an adaptation of Larry Brown’s 1991 novel of the same name. His story follows Nicolas Cage, a former convict who has trouble controlling his anger. The central theme in this film is also his relationship with his fifteen-year-old friend Gary (Tye Sheridan). Gary has just moved to the town and lives in a very poor family, under difficult conditions, with his father (Gary Poulter), otherwise a heavy alcoholic, constantly harassing him. In search of a job, Gary meets Joe, who runs a group of local wage workers, and Joe hires him. Over time, an ever closer relationship is built between them and trust and friendship are born.
The introductory description gives the impression that the relationship between Joe and Gary is a special outpouring of kindness by Joe, but it is not quite so, although Joe can certainly be characterized as a good person, despite all its negative aspects. Namely, Gary is a boy who is not used to kindness and tenderness within his family, and the crumbs of the same that someone instructs him mean a lot. Thanks to the occasional outbursts of protective attitude that Joe has towards Gary, in contrast to the completely negative atmosphere that awaits him at home every day, Gary is increasingly beginning to see a father figure in Joe.
Joe’s character on the other hand is not as clear as Gary’s. More precisely, it is about the ambiguity of Joe’s motives, although it can be seen that he strives to correct some of his old mistakes in which the viewer is not particularly familiar, which is somewhat visible through his lonely and somewhat sad way of life as if punishing himself. Because of correcting this unknown mistake, it seems that Joe is ready to sacrifice himself as well. Through the story, however, we do not see the dimensions of Joe’s mistakes from his youth, and it seems to us that they should be very minor, and that they may be exaggerated, since it is very obvious that he is very popular, appreciated and respected in his town. But all this would be just speculation based on very scarce information about Joe, which could also be one of the objections of the story, but not necessarily.
Dramas usually bring with them a higher quality of acting than is the case with other genres. However, the power of drama in the field of acting is not taken for granted, but we can say that in the case of the movie Joe, that is true. Many call this role the best acting performance of Nicolas Cage, which we may or may not agree with, but this is certainly one of Cage’s best roles, and at the same time it is considered his return to something we would call quality. However, as far as acting is concerned, we would rather turn our attention to the young Thai Sheridan, who, after roles in The Tree of Life (2011) and Mood (2012), has now appeared in the best possible light in Joe.
Looking at him in the role of Gary, nothing can be said except that Sheridan represents one great hope for the world of acting. In addition to Cage and Sheridan, who practically share the main role, it is interesting to mention Gary Poulter in the role of Gary’s father. What is especially interesting about Poulter is the fact that he is actually a homeless man, also an alcoholic, just like in the film, chosen perhaps because of the authenticity of the portrayal of his film character, but he also turned out to be a great actor, if he acted at all. . Poulter passed away, found in a shallow pond, before the film even had its premiere.
It is interesting that dramas are usually not a genre of films that we would like to watch first, and when someone suggests them to us with the words: “look at this, it’s great”, we will usually avoid it for a long time after we finally watch it. However, in many cases, dramas often end with great impressions, regretting why we haven’t seen them before. An even stranger thing about the whole drama genre story is that we are often convinced that it is a great film, but we still avoid it, which is really a kind of phenomenon when it comes to our attitude towards this genre.
Of course, all this can be a very subjective and individual experience, but it leads to the conclusion that we pack Joe’s film in the same basket and characterize it as one great achievement worth watching.