Tiny Lights of Decency in a Dark World
Release Date: April 11, 2014
Runtime: 117 minutes
Distributor: Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate Films
Director: David Gordon Green
Executive Producer: Maria Cestone, Molly Conners, Sarah Johnson Redlich, Hoyt David Morgan, Brad Coolidge, Melissa Coolidge, Todd Labarowski, Danny McBride, Jody Hill. Co-producers, Alexander Uhlmann, Atilla Salih Yucer
Writer: Gary Hawkins
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JOE stars Nicolas Cage in the title role, playing a man who heads up a crew that clears backwoods areas of dead trees. He treats his men, who are all blacks in a backwoods area still caught up in de facto segregation, with respect and fair pay. One day, he meets a teenage loner named Gary (Tye Sheridan), who asks for a job on Joe’s tree crew and gets it.
Joe comes to learn that Gary is horribly impoverished and abused by his worthless alcoholic father. Joe begins teaching Gary lessons in self-esteem, self-respect and the value of hard work. He also defends Gary against his father and helps the boy move in with him to be in a safer environment.
However, Joe has enemies from elsewhere in town and his past, and constantly has to control a temper that once got him thrown in prison for 29 months for assaulting a policeman. As Joe faces pressures from saving the boy as well as his own economic strains and the danger of others seeking to hurt him, he gets caught between trying to be a truly good man and the sometimes inevitable fact that good guys sometimes have bad things happen no matter how hard they try.
JOE marks a huge comeback for its star Nicolas Cage, who has been making some questionable action movies for the last 10 years. Young Tye Sheridan builds on his impressive debut in MUD and offers a beautiful portrait of a kid trying to do the right thing when everyone around him does wrong to him.
Director David Gordon Green brings JOE to life in a sad and dusty world of poverty and broken dreams, but keeps his real focus on the decent hearts of Joe and Gary. Though the story ultimately is rewarding, with strong moral elements, the foul language is extreme. The violence is infrequent but harsh. JOE also contains some strong lewd moments and brief nudity. So, the worldview is mixed, and extreme caution is advised.
JOE marks a huge comeback for Nicolas Cage. He turns in a nice performance of a man with both good and bad qualities. Young Tye Sheridan as Gary builds on his impressive debut in MUD. He offers a beautiful portrait of a teenager trying to do the right thing. The story ultimately is rewarding, with strong moral elements, but JOE contains abundant foul language, some harsh violence, strong lewd moments, and brief nudity. So, the worldview is mixed, and extreme caution is advised.