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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

"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
"... a dynamic examination of masculinity and redemption about complex characters whose macho posturing masks an inner vulnerability."
‑ Todd Jorgenson,
"If only we knew the movie's title character a little better. But maybe being left wondering is another victory for Cage. When was the last time you were intrigued by a Cage character?"
‑ Carla Meyer, Sacramento Bee
"...when Cage's two selves collide you wind up with performances like his unjustly overlooked brilliance in Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans, or, if he takes it down a few hundred notches, in something like Joe."
‑ Dave White,
"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
"The film belongs to Cage. You can feel his compassion as Joe defies the reduced options of his life. There's not an unfelt moment in Cage's performance. Or in the movie."
‑ Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"Leaves an aftertaste of toxic horror."
‑ Jules Brenner, Cinema Signals
"Joe is the Nicolas Cage comeback I didn't realize I was waiting for."
‑ Alynda Wheat, People Magazine
"Green shows a comfort with the people and the land in this rough-edged drama."
‑ Boo Allen, Denton Record Chronicle (TX)
"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
""Joe" ties up the audience emotionally."
‑ Tony Hicks, San Jose Mercury News
"Finally, a worthy Nicolas Cage performance"
‑ Robert Denerstein, Movie Habit
"Joe hands Nicolas Cage his most ideal part in ages."
‑ Robert Levin, amNewYork
"What ought to be bleak is instead a report on the tender dramatic attentions of one of our most generous contemporary filmmakers."
‑ Ray Pride, Newcity
More reviews for Joe on Rotten Tomatoes