A real-life quote from Gary Poulter :
The script called for somebody that looked like "An old man, alcoholic, prone to violence, who looked like the aftermath of a human disaster." My first day of shooting when I went to hair and make up. I asked the woman "Bridgette" "Do you need to do anything with my appearance?" She said "No you're good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" LOL.
After seeing "Outcast", "Tokarev" and "The Runner", I wondered which movie it was where Nicolas Cage once more excelled in, before his career went downhill. And I can say with certainty that "Joe" is his last achievement before his acting went down the drain. This film proves what he's capable of and once again demonstrates his brilliant acting talent. It's not "Leaving Las Vegas" (but close) and there won't be an Oscar nomination now. But it surely was impressive. It's a depressing and dramatic spectacle about marginalized persons who have to deal with poverty, unemployment, alcoholism and abuse. What's even sadder is the fact that a few months after filming Gary Poulter, a homeless alcoholic who plays the role of the aggressive and usually drunk father Wade in a magnificent and wonderful way, was found dead.
It's been a long time I've seen such a dark and depressing film. I think it's since "Tyrannosaur" that I felt shaken up after witnessing so much sorrow. A film full of alcohol abuse and domestic violence. Family circumstances resulting in a tragic outcome. That's what the self-assured Gary (Tye Sheridan) experiences on a daily base. A hopeless battle between him and his aggressive father Wade, who is unable to support a family because of an uncontrollable craving for alcohol. Even Gary's hard-earned money isn't safe. Money earned by working for Joe (Nicolas Cage). Joe is an ex-con who has trouble with extreme bursts of rage. And it's money that's required to support the rest of the family.
Nicolas Cage is in his element in this film. An explosive cocktail of all sorts of human emotions. A perfectly played role that perfectly suits Cage. Once again proof that Cage is able to show great things. As long as he gets an appropriate role. He himself is an overflowing barrel full of aggression. A person with a short fuse and with a stately lumberjack beard. At the same time he tries to be a father figure for Gary. He takes him under his wing and gives him a job. Gary is played in an excellent manner by Tye Sheridan who had a similar role in "Mud". But Gary Poulter is without a doubt the star in this film. A feat that can not be matched by even the most seasoned and talented actor. Just because the guy is not acting here. He just plays his daily life. The irresistible craving for alcohol that causes such an individual to behave in an inhumane manner towards his neighbors, strangers and finally himself. The disgusting behavior of Wade in the end is incomprehensible for any sane person.
"Joe" is a masterpiece, despite its slow pace and dark atmosphere. An example of pure cinema and a delight to watch. Not that it's relaxing cinema. You definitely won't feel happy afterwards. It really is a film that grabs you by your throat and won't let you go. A terrible story oozing with physical and psychological abuse that won't leave you untouched. But fortunately, this movie was also a confirmation that Cage is a superb actor. I hope to see more of that in the future.
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