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Joe 2014

Critics score:
86 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine: Rough-hewn and sometimes too garrulous, Joe may not be quite the equal of Green's earlier films. But it's nicely judged and, like Joe's bad dreams, can't be ignored. Read more

Kyle Smith, New York Post: If there is a point to it all, I couldn't find it. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: A beautiful film, shot by Tim Orr, that is elevated by Mr. Cage's stirring portrait of a violence-prone man who can't restrain himself from doing good. Read more

Soren Anderson, Seattle Times: 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. Read more

Justin Chang, Variety: A patiently observed, often unsettlingly violent drama that can't help but feel overly familiar in some of its particulars, rich in rural texture but low on narrative momentum or surprise Read more

A.A. Dowd, AV Club: What's commendable about Cage's performance, given his usual tendency to go as far over the top as possible, is the way the actor downplays even the occasional surge of violent emotion. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: 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. Read more

Peter Keough, Boston Globe: Whatever you call it, it's not quite right. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: 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. Read more

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: They may be all too rare these days, but there are still occasions when Nicolas Cage can surprise us, flashing hints of his old acting-without-a-net self. Read more

Jordan Hoffman, Film.com: Ultimately comes together as a striking character meditation. Read more

David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter: Where it really works is in Cage's bone-deep characterization of a man at war with himself, as tightly leashed as the badass bulldog that guards his house. Read more

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times: Though "Joe" occasionally slips and falters, the filmmakers and actors get all the hard-luck details right. Besides, it's nice to see its star out of the cage for a change. Read more

Amy Nicholson, L.A. Weekly: Joe is Cage's periodic reminder that he's one of his generation's great talents. Perhaps he's reminding himself. Read more

Tony Hicks, San Jose Mercury News: "Joe" ties up the audience emotionally. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: Cage surprises you with his portrayal of a man who doesn't care whether the world likes him but discovers he's capable of taking an interest in someone who desperately needs help but can't bring himself to ask. Read more

Bob Mondello, NPR: 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. Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: This kind of character could be deeply unappealing, but Cage appreciates the soulfulness of the story, as well as the swamp of backwoods Americana from which it springs. Read more

Stephen Holden, New York Times: Mr. Cage gives his most committed performance in years as this divided soul, but it still looks like acting when compared with Mr. Poulter's embodiment of pure evil. Read more

Michael Sragow, Orange County Register: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan can't save this story -- about a righteous ex-con becoming the surrogate father to an abused boy -- from turning into an exercise in rural wretchedness. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: This world feels studied in its "authenticity": the rusted GMC pickup, the tumbledown shack, the boozy brothel, and angry Joe Ransom guttin' deer and tending to his own gunshot wounds with a grimace and a bottle of alcohol. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: 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. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: If you've missed Nicolas Cage and the special qualities he brings to movies, "Joe" is a good place to get reacquainted. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: The characters are rich and round with human contradictions. Joe, despite his police rap sheet and outlaw temperament, has a core of tenderness and humor. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "Joe" is not handsome or especially smart, but like its namesake, the film has enough rough humor and respect for hard work to qualify as average. Read more

Bill Stamets, Chicago Sun-Times: Gripping and at times agonizing. Read more

Geoff Pevere, Globe and Mail: 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. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: A tough rural drama by David Gordon Green that digs deep in all the right ways. Read more

Alonso Duralde, TheWrap: While Green deftly brings us into this small Texas town, perfectly capturing its inhabitants and their humid surroundings, the script by Gary Hawkins (adapting the novel by Larry Brown) overplays its hand. Read more

Keith Uhlich, Time Out: Green, as is his wont, too often strains for poetic effect through flowery voiceover and tone-deaf interactions-like those between Joe and his latest short-term girlfriend-that undercut the genuineness. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, Village Voice: The whole thing makes Winter's Bone look as cheerful as a Li'l Abner strip, and there's something distastefully condescending about it. Read more

Amy Nicholson, Village Voice: Joe is a miserably perfect portrait of a culture on the brink of collapse. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: When Cage doesn't grandstand, you can see what made him so likable once: his boyish earnestness, his touching lack of cynicism. Read more

Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post: Poulter's intensity matches Cage's, note for note. The frightening verisimilitude of his portrayal lends the film a cinema verite realism that nicely mutes some of Cage's star power. Read more