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Joe
Joe movie poster

Joe Movie Review

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Every once in a while, Nicolas Cage does it. He reminds us that deep, deep down, he’s capable of being good in a good movie. Joe, a glorified direct-to-video release, is just that: a good movie featuring a good performance by Nic Cage.

There’s no need to explain the drivel that Cage has subjected audiences to over the last several years, so I’ll simply say it’s refreshing to see the man do something smaller. More interesting. Let me repeat: good.

Joe is about a dude named Joe, a quiet, grumbling ex-con who leads a ragtag crew of “lumberjacks.” Though he continues to get himself into trouble, he decides to befriend and mentor a 15-year-old boy (Tye Sheridan). Redemption, not just for Joe but for Nic Cage?

Both Cage and Sheridan are solid in their respective roles, but the gold goes to Cage for doing the exact opposite of what he’s done for the last several years: try to be front and center in movies that have no right existing in the first place. Instead, he immerses himself in the role and the movie, a subtle, nuanced drama with bursts of violence.

The movie’s low-key approach to… well, just about everything… won’t blow away the average moviegoer, and the story is nothing that hasn’t been done before, but director David Gordon Green’s execution is simple and effective. The movie operates at the right pace, introduces a series of intriguing and troubled characters and gets you invested in the two leads.

That’s more than can be said for most movies.

Joe lacks the glamour of some of Nicolas Cage’s other movies, but it’s exactly what the actor needed: a dark, somber tale of redemption, a small movie about small characters where Cage can flex his acting muscles and be a part of something more. Highly recommended.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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