This movie is one of those rare pieces of art that manages to capture the tragedy and majesty of real life, the astonishing pain of abuse, and the resilience of the human spirit. Set in the badlands of Austin, Texas, “Joe” offers a refreshingly un-romanticized review of real poverty in a population with delightfully unintelligible accents.
This film will transport you thoroughly and stay on your mind for days. A film of the ‘whoa-life…’ genre (my favorite genre by far) that will make you smile and weep all at once. Magnificent performances by Tye Sheridan and Nicolas Cage. Easily my favorite film of the year!
My only criticism is of the narrative itself. There is a strong ‘bootstraps’ feel to the script, which is a common myth: that one can overcome trauma by Being a Hard Working American. No you really can’t. But you can elevate yourself out of the kind of crushing poverty that perpetuates abuse. You can do that, you can get Safe. But, once safe, you will still have to learn how to heal.