I must admit that I am not a Nicolas Cage fan, but he does surprise in the latest offering from David Gordon Green. Cage plays the role of an ex-con done good. With a steady job and a latent fondness for drink, Cage must learn to control the quick fire temper he has in order to survive in the real world. In a surprising twist to the film, Joe employs Gary, a young 15-year-old who is trying to make a few dollars in order to help his family out and to stay one step ahead of his alcoholic and violent Dad, played by Gary Pouter who gives an immense performance despite having no acting experience.
The film runs the two storylines parallel to each other, that of Joe and his ever so tight hold on his temper and that of Gary, a young kid looking to try and make the world a better place for his Mother and his sister. A unusual relationship develops between Joe and Gary when Joe learns what Gary’s father is up to. Despite Joe’s obvious lack of commitment or want to enter into any sort of relationships, he becomes quite protective of Joe and it is this that will save the boy’s life.
We witness what happens when Joe loses control and although difficult to watch sometimes, Cage plays the part extremely well. Although as with all of Cage’s roles so far, there is an element of over acting which sometimes makes the movie seem less raw. With a tenuous grasp on his temper, Joe is forced to face up to his demons when he gets in trouble and it follows him around. Will it push him over the edge?
Joe is not just about Joe, it is also about the destruction alcholism can do to a family, the results of not facing your demons and above all the story of how one man let someone in and paid the price. If you like Nicolas Cage, you may well like this film but Gary Pouter and Tye Sheridan put in breath taking performances in this film about the hard lessons that life can teach us all sometimes.