Director: David Gordon Green
An unusual relationship develops between young, refuge seeking drifter, Gary (Tye Sheridan) and ex-con Joe (Nicholas Cage) who oversees a crew clearing trees. Joe is a believable and emotional film that follows an unconventional friendship between two emotionally scarred people
Taking place in America’s deep south, site foreman Joe Ransom reluctantly hires fifteen year old Gary Poulter, the son of an abusive alcoholic father, who must support his mother and sister. From this, a unique brotherly relationship unfolds, with Joe becoming both mentor and protector.
Cage reminds us that he can deliver a rich layered performance with the right material. Never going overboard, he uses subtlety right down to the accent. Up-and-comer Sheridan also brings a natural, subtle performance. Their chemistry works well, including banter which often borders on hilarious.
Green focuses on the poverty-stricken south, but moreover he carefully delves into the complicated nuances of friendships. He went so far as to hire locals, non-actors, to add a certain realism. Gary Hawkins adapts Larry Brown’s novel, transforming it into a well-developed southern drama with a Western twang. The last act is cinematically charged and action-packed as Cage makes serious decisions. The tone blends comedy, drama, and action, finely balanced by cinematographer Tim Orr’s outdoor scenes which appear suntanned. It’s one of Green’s best. (Eric Marchen)