FILM BRIGIT GRANT Long may he rein it in — it’s back to form for Cage

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

JOE (15)

BEST BRUSH up on your T e x a n b e f o r e s e e i n g David Gor­don Green’s movie. With much of the cast sport­ing ac­cents that sound as if they’re chew­ing corn when talk­ing, the temp­ta­tion to ask “wat dat boy sayin?” is con­stant and more than a lit­tle an­noy­ing.

Though he was born in Long Beach and schooled in Bev­erly Hills, Ni­cholas Cage has al­ways drawled with aplomb and as the vi­o­lent ex-con in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, he did it with some style. I’m pretty cer­tain he had a hint of a drawl when he played a dy­ing al­co­holic in Mike Fig­gis’s bril- liant Leav­ing Las Ve­gas but you could for­give him any­thing then as he was ca­pa­ble of emo­tional re­straint. But some­thing hap­pened to Cage and he started hit­ting car­toon heights as he over-per­formed in ev­ery­thing.

It is good, there­fore, to see him rein­ing it in to play Joe, a volatile ex­con (yes, an­other one) who is try­ing to keep out of trou­ble while do­ing a te­dious job man­ag­ing a crew charged with culling trees on be­half of a com­pany that wants to re­place them.

The Texan town he lives in is toxic, largely be­cause of its no-hope ci­ti­zens, many of whom are unem­ployed — as well as un­in­tel­li­gi­ble.

A 1 5 - y e a r - ol d boy, Gar y ( Ty e Sheri­dan), is the sin­gle ray of hope, but his ef­forts to make a bet­ter life for him­self work­ing for Joe are jeop­ar­dised by his vi­o­lent al­co­holic fa­ther played by a real-life home­less man (Gary Poul­ter), who was found on the streets of Austin. He died there three months after the film was fin­ished.

This is a tragedy be­cause Poul­ter had all the mak­ings of be­ing the next Bruce Dern and the direc­tor’s at­tempt to give the film a quasi-doc­u­men­tary feel owes much to his per­for­mance, plus that of the tree crew, who are also non-pro­fes­sion­als.

As Joe sets out to re­deem him­self by play­ing dad to Gary, you will be re­minded of Jeff Ni­chols’s Mud, which also starred Sheri­dan and gave Matthew McConaughey an es­cape route out of rom-coms. I can’t say I loved the film, though Sheri­dan is set for main­stream star­dom and cast­ing agents will be re-eval­u­at­ing Cage.

Ni­cholas Cage in Joe

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