Joe stars Nicolas Cage as Joe Ransom, an ex-con who hires men to help clear woodland of weak trees so that the land owner can plant stronger trees. Normally, he just hires other ex-cons who will hang about waiting to be picked for a day’s work, so it’s different to find 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan) wanting to pitch in.
Gary needs direction in his life, as he only has an ever-drunk father for company, while Joe also needs direction as he drifts through life, only attracting attention from those who want to do wrong by him.
I was really looking forward to this as it’s one of a number of indie films released this year which have been criminally ignored by my local Odeon in favour of unbelievable dross like Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie!
However, Joe rather meanders on from one scene to the next. We get that he is like the father that Gary wishes he had, but apart from having skirmishes with the law, and an ongoing beef with local redneck Willie-Russell (Ronnie Gene Blevins), there’s nothing else in the way of a story.
It’s also very slow in the first hour, so when hoping for a more engaging second half, I instead got a slightly more interesting second hour with Nicolas Cage turning in a bit of angst occasionally, but overall, aside from an amusing turn from Ronnie Gene Blevins, despite the promise of gritty drama, this is no new Blue Ruin, one of the best dramas of the year.
And all with a Southern drawl which can’t always be made out, especially when there are no subtitles.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition and has no defects on the print, bringing Joe’s grim hometown to life perfectly.
Soundwise, the audio is in DTS HD 5.1, but, as this is a drama, little use is made of the rear speakers. In fact, I can’t remember anything specific. Just dialogue and ambience is there to be heard, and that’s fine.
When it comes to the extras, there’s not much to shout about. Just a brief Making-of featurette (11:15), led by the director and featuring clips mixed in with chat from the cast and crew, including from Gary Poulter (Gary’s father, Wade), who sadly died shortly after filming ended. There’s also a trailer (2:04) in the original 2.35:1 ratio. Both are in HD, which is a plus, but that’s it.
The menu features clips from the film set to a short, looped piece of backing music, and there are no subtitles which is very annoying, given the aforementioned situation re: Southern drawl!, and when it comes to the chaptering, I feel one should come every five minutes on average. Curzon, like many other distributors, usually go for a low 12 however long the film.
Very poor presentation, overall, Curzon.
Running time: 118 minutes
Released: October 6th 2014
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ProRes 4:4:4 (1080p/24))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: David Gordon Green
Producers: David Gordon Green, Lisa Muskat, Derrick Tseng and Christopher Woodrow
Screenplay: Larry Brown (based on the novel by Gary Hawkins)
Music: Jeff McIlwain and David Wingo
Joe: Nicolas Cage
Gary: Tye Sheridan
Wade a.k.a. G-Daawg: Gary Poulter
Willie-Russell: Ronnie Gene Blevins
Connie: Adriene Mishler
Junior: Brian Mays
Earl: Aj Wilson McPhaul
Wino: Elbert Hill Jr
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.