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A gripping mix of friendship, violence and redemption erupts in the contemporary South in this adaptation of Larry Brown's novel, celebrated at once for its grit and its deeply moving core. Directed by David Gordon Green, JOE film brings Academy Award (R) winner Nicolas Cage back to his indie roots in the title role as the hard-living, hot-tempered, ex-con Joe Ransom, who is just trying to dodge his instincts for trouble - until he meets a hard-luck kid, (MUD's Tye Sheridan) who awakens in him a fierce and tender-hearted protector. (c) Roadside

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"The shifting tones keep the movie both buoyant and firmly grounded, and playing out in a sphere pitched somewhere between the mythic and the muddy."
‑ Geoff Pevere, Globe and Mail
"A small-scale, expertly acted character study in which Cage plays an ex-con trying to make a quiet living in a backwater Texas town and trying, above all, to keep certain troublesome character tendencies in check."
‑ Soren Anderson, Seattle Times
"Moody, melancholy and well-intentioned, Joe works better as a character study than the melodramatic parable that it eventually embraces."
‑ Siobhan Synnot, Scotsman
"What lifts Joe above similar stories, besides the acting, is Green's intense attentiveness to setting and atmosphere."
‑ Margot Harrison, Seven Days
"Cage gives us a complex portrait of a formerly bad man trying to do the right thing in all his imperfect and messy glory."
‑ Alistair Harkness, Scotsman
"A tough rural drama by David Gordon Green that digs deep in all the right ways."
‑ Peter Howell, Toronto Star
"What happens along the way isn't particularly surprising to those familiar with Southern gothic sensibilities. But if the path is predictable, the acting is not."
‑ Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
"Green's soul-baring Southern noir has much to say about those who speak with their fists and is a masterwork of threatening melancholy."
‑ Matt Glasby, Total Film
"Nicolas Cage is as if the question "Turn down for what?" took human form and then starred in a bunch of direct-to-DVD thrillers. For him, there is no such thing as a 'phoned-in' performance."
‑ Simon Miraudo, Quickflix
"a beautifully, painfully wrought drama about violence and redemption"
‑ James Kendrick, Q Network Film Desk
"It's young Sheridan's Gary who makes the film work, with his mix of earnest ambition, stubborn courage and hopeful endurance. He gives "Joe" the honesty it needs."
‑ Tom Long, Detroit News
"For Nicolas Cage, whose dumb, rant-for-hire projects have lately been making audiences forget how good he can be, Joe is more than a rescue - it's a re-birth."
‑ Bob Mondello, NPR
"Green doesn't take the obvious route, looping in and out of a series of incidents instead of chaining them too tightly in cause and effect, creating real intrigue around Joe and his impulse to destroy."
‑ Stella Papamichael, Digital Spy
"Joe is elegiac and wistful, but it also is loose enough to let Cage run a little free."
‑ Will Leitch, Deadspin
"Green is as observant as ever, and he not only conjures up a vivid, self-contained universe, but peoples it with fascinating, damaged characters. No matter how lowdown they may appear, Green seems to understand their humanity."
‑ Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
More reviews for Joe on Rotten Tomatoes