In order to provide for his destitute family of drifters, a likable, sincere, able-bodied 15-year-old boy comes to hire on among a burned-out ex-con’s group of aging forest laborers. As the man becomes more and more aware of the boy’s abusive home life, his deeply buried humanity is roused. Drinking and smoking incessantly to remain detached from his volatile temper, he finally takes the matter into his own hands – come what may – when the boy’s alcoholic father finally goes too far.
User Reviews: Joe was well-received in its American premiere at Austin’s SXSW Film Festival. David Gordon Green’s film, based on Larry Brown’s novel, was filmed locally in the Austin-area. The film is dark, brooding, intense and most of all depressing. The story about a local lumber foreman – Joe – who tries to rescue a 15-year-old drifter with an abusive alcoholic father is violent and disturbing and one knows from the start that there is no way for it to really end well. I found the film a little too dark and a little too slow as it moves to what seems like an inevitable bitter end. I think it could use some editing to speed the pace a bit. The acting by Nicholas Cage as the foreman and young Tye Sheridan – fresh off of his success in Mud alongside Matthew McConaughey – are excellent. In a way, it reverses the characters in Mud where Tye Sheridan’s character is trying to rescue the older man; in Joe, the situation is the other way around. The film is hard to watch at times and difficult to call enjoyable, but the story is still powerful. It is difficult to imagine that such a dark film will attain much cinematic success. Green often casts locals in his film. In a sad, but perhaps appropriate corollary, the Green cast a local homeless man, Gary Poulter, to play the important role of the alcoholic father. Poulter died on the streets of Austin two months after the end of the filming. It is a powerful film, but I doubt I will ever want to watch it again.