Hicks with Issues

April 9, 2014 10:38 PM

15 0

Joe hits those povertysploitation benchmarks with the businesslike efficiency of a dead-eyed, trailer-trash hooker. (Check!) Directed by David Gordon Green from the 1991 novel by Larry Brown, it's about a friendship between a man with a troubled past, Joe (Nicolas Cage), and a boy, Gary (Tye Sheridan), who's new to town and desperate to protect his sister and mother from his violent, alcoholic father. The film's quality cleaves neatly along the fault line of its source material: The acting and direction range from solid to great, while the story is an overblown, boilerplate backwoods thriller about hicks with substance abuse issues.

Joe's best sequences have little to do with moving the over-determined story along, and a lot to do with establishing relationships between men: between Joe and the men on his work crew, between Gary and his dad (before, that is, the father character devolves into ludicrous villainy), and particular...

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