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Joe is a 2013 independent crime drama film directed and co-produced by David Gordon Green, co-produced by Lisa Muskat, Derrick Tseng and Christopher Woodrow and written by Gary Hawkins, adaptation from Larry Brown's 1991 novel of the same name. It stars Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan, revolving around a tormented man who hires a 15-year-old boy and protects him from his abusive father.

Joe (2013 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Gordon Green
Produced by
Screenplay byGary Hawkins
Based onJoe
by Larry Brown
Music by
  • Jeff McIlwain
  • David Wingo
CinematographyTim Orr
Edited byColin Patton
Distributed byRoadside Attractions
Release date
  • August 30, 2013 (2013-08-30) (Venice)
  • April 11, 2014 (2014-04-11) (United States)
Running time
117 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$4 million
Box office$2.36 million[2][3]

The film premiered at the 70th Venice International Film Festival on August 30, 2013,[4][5] with a subsequent screening at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.[6] The film was then distributed by Worldview Entertainment and Lionsgate Films on April 11, 2014. It was a box office flop, grossing only $2.36 million from a $4 million budget, but received critical acclaim from critics, who praised Cage's performance and Green's direction.



Joe Ransom is a foreman for a small tree-poisoning crew in rural Texas. A 15-year-old drifter named Gary asks Joe for a job, and impresses him with his work ethic. The next day, Gary brings his alcoholic father Wade with him to work, but Wade's attitude and laziness gets them both fired. Joe witnesses Wade beat Gary and take his money. Gary later goes to Joe's house to ask for his job back. Joe agrees, and Gary begins working for him regularly, hiding his money from Wade.

Willie Russell, a criminal with whom Joe has a long-standing feud, shoots Joe as he leaves a friend's house. Later, Gary meets Willie and asks him for a ride home; when Willie makes lewd comments about Gary's younger sister, Dorothy, however, Gary beats him up. Later, Wade beats to death a homeless man, stealing his liquor.

Willie confronts Joe at a bar and asks him where Gary lives in an attempt to find him and seek revenge. Joe doesn't answer, and when Willie continues to press him, Joe beats him up. Joe tells the bartender to call the police before fleeing to a brothel. Joe leaves the brothel after getting spooked by an angry guard dog. Joe returns home, gets his dog and returns to the brothel, where he sets his dog on the guard dog, and has sex with a prostitute. He leaves with his dog, who has killed the guard dog. Two police officers stop him and hold him at gunpoint as he lets his dog out of his truck, and Joe challenges them to a fight. Joe is arrested, but released.

Wade asks Gary for money, but Gary claims that he doesn't have any. They get into an argument that ends with Wade pulling a knife on Gary. Wade leaves, but promises to return and find the rest of Gary's money.

Gary visits Joe, who tells him that he once served 29 months in prison for assaulting three police officers. Gary agrees to help Joe look for his dog. They find the dog, and Joe gives Gary his lighter as a keepsake. Joe finds Wade walking along on the side of the road and invites him into his truck. Joe mentions that Gary wants to buy his truck, but when Wade insults Gary, Joe grabs him by the collar and threatens to hurt him if anything happens to the boy.

Gary tells Joe that he has enough money to buy his truck, and they buy a new one. Joe tells Gary to keep the money he was going to use to buy Joe's truck, and use it to get insurance instead. As Joe drives home, a patrol cop stops him and tries to make him take a breathalyzer test, but Joe refuses and drives away. An altercation ensues in which Joe beats the officer. A higher-ranking officer, a friend of Joe's and a fellow ex-con, visits Joe and says the patrol cop had it coming, but warns him to keep his nose clean.

Gary arrives at Joe's house, his face bruised. Gary asks to borrow his truck, and Joe asks what happened. Gary reveals that Wade beat him up, stole his truck and left with Dorothy, intent on pimping her out to Willie. The two of them go after Wade. Meanwhile, Willie pays Wade $30, and prepares to rape Dorothy. Joe arrives and subdues Willie, and Gary leaves with Dorothy. Willie begs an unmoved Joe for his life, but as Joe prepares to kill him, one of Willie's thugs shoots him in the side. Joe kills Willie and the thug, and limps towards Wade, who is standing on a nearby bridge. He tries to shoot him, but misses. He attempts to shoot Wade again, but finds he is out of bullets. Wade asks Joe if he's his friend, and when Joe doesn't answer, leaps off the bridge to his death. Gary arrives with the sheriff and embraces Joe as he dies.

Later, Gary is shown to have inherited Joe's truck and dog, and he is given a new job replanting the same forest that Joe and his crew killed.



Joe received critical acclaim from critics. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 87% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 126 reviews with a "Certified Fresh" rating and an average score of 7.3/10, with the site consensus: "Rich in atmosphere and anchored by a powerful performance from Nicolas Cage, Joe is a satisfying return to form for its star -- as well as director David Gordon Green".[8] On Metacritic, it holds a Metascore of 74, indicating "generally favorable" reviews based on 36 critics.[9]

The film circulated into the mainstream news when actor Gary Poulter was found dead in a shallow body of water on February 19, 2013, before the film was ever released.[10][11] Poulter, who played Wade in the film, was homeless, suffered from alcoholism and was already seriously ill. His only other acting credit was as a background extra in the TV series Thirtysomething. Producers worried that casting Poulter in the film would be a risk because of his alcoholism, but Green stayed committed to having him in the film. Writing for, Peter Sobczynski called Poulter's performance "stunning" and "one of the great one-shot performances in the history of the cinema".[12]


  1. ^ "JOE (15)". Artificial Eye. British Board of Film Classification. May 16, 2014. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  2. ^ "Joe (2014) (2014) - Box Office Mojo".
  3. ^ "Joe (2014) (2014) - International Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo".
  4. ^ "Venezia 70". labiennale. Archived from the original on September 26, 2015. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  5. ^ "Venice film festival 2013: the full line-up". The Guardian. London. July 25, 2013. Retrieved July 25, 2013.
  6. ^ "Toronto film festival 2013: the full line-up". The Guardian. London. July 23, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2013.
  7. ^ McClintock, Pamela (September 7, 2012). "Toronto 2012: Nicolas Cage To Star In David Gordon Green's 'Joe'". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  8. ^ "Joe (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  9. ^ "Joe". Metacritic. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  10. ^ The Tragedy of Gary Poulter, Nic Cage's Homeless Co-Star Archived February 10, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2014-05-22.
  11. ^ His Name Was Gary Poulter. Retrieved on 2014-12-08.
  12. ^ Joe Movie Review & Film Summary (2014). Roger Ebert. Retrieved on 2014-05-22.

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