Reviews for Friends #2 Joe

Joe is a raw, dirty, almost primal and ultimately really depressing portrayal of a group of men in the contemporary South.

This film was so angry. Everyone was angry. Even the dogs were angry. But it made for a very tense and suspenseful watch, right from the outset. The soundtrack was sensational in building the mood of growing unease.

As an unashamed Nicholas Cage fan, it was great to see him on good form in the lead role of Joe, a troubled ex-con struggling to keep on the straight and narrow. His life crosses paths with that of 15-year old Gary and his family. Gary Poulter delivered a tremendous performance in the role of the boy’s alcoholic father. Terrifying beard.

Joe becomes an unlikely role model for Gary and, as events take place, is faced with a life-changing decision, ultimately forced to chose between redemption or ruin.

The film took a turn of total desperate horror in the second half - I had to look away twice. Disgustingly bleak. At one point I jumped so hard that I spilled wine both on my boyfriend and the man sat in the row in front.
The supporting women were very much half-formed characters, as you’d expect. There was the obligatory tattooed whore with a heart of gold, with one particularly painful scene where she asks Joe to “take her out to dinner” and “hold doors open for her” – ouch.

The film swung in feeling for me between western-esque violence and honour, and all the wildly dramatic injustice and redemption of musical theatre.

On another note of gentle criticism, I felt it could have benefitted from subtitles – someone must be getting old…

Notable scenes that will linger in the memory include one terrifying/hilarious dog fight-blow job-weight lifting-snowman montage.

There was also a bizarre cum-face scene, which I wasn’t sure if I’d misheard (see need for subtitles).

But, fortunately, lumberjack shirts and similar stereotypes were not too gratuitous.

Joe also included some memorable catchphrases to repeat at inappropriate moments in daily life, including “Shit, where’s my daaawg?!” And, my personal favourite, “I went through a windshield and I don’t give a fuck.”

There’s also a particularly entertaining SPOILER ALERT ‘extravagant limping because I’ve just been shot’ pre-death scene from Cage before the end, which was a highlight for me after all the seriousness.

Overall, this was very much a man’s film about men for men. But this girl enjoyed the ride. Mostly. With one eye shut.

(As a jolly aside, the boy character - played by Tye Sheridan - weirdly reminded me of a young Jamie Oliver. Couldn’t quite get past it.)

 
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