Caty Alexandre’s review published on Letterboxd:
An ex-con called Joe creates a friendship bond with a fifteen year old boy who lives a troubled life due to his alcoholic father. Joe can't understand why he quickly became so attached to this boy but it seems like the boy is messing up with his emotions and for a man like Joe that's not good at all. He is very impulsive and trouble seems to be just around the corner for him every time. The boy starts to see him as some kind of the father figure, the figure that he wished his father to be. Joe sees how he suffers but at the same time this fifteen year old boy can be so strong to deal with the hell that his life his. Fate brought that boy into Joe's life and he feels like he need to protect him.
David Gordon Green has done films such as Pineapple Express and The Sitter. Then last year he brought to us Prinche Avalanche where is very present that he leaves a bit of the humour behind to blend it with some more drama. In Joe he really steps deep into the drama genre. And one of the things that surprised me in the film is that even with a powerful dark atmosphere he never forgot to illuminate things up a bit of humour now and then providing us some spontaneous laughs without being silly and forced. The humour was used exactly at the right places. The cinematography is very beautiful with some gorgeous shots in the woods.
The performances are great and this time Nicolas Cage deserves all of the credits! Looks like the guy is back on the good track again! I loved to see him as Joe and he was perfect to play the part. He was able to transmit to us all of the anger and the pain of the character. I think the young and talented actor Tye Sheridan is a real promise. I loved to see him last year in Mud, in a similar role like he has in this film. Now let's wait to see what he is able to show us in different type of roles the future. The chemistry between Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan was great! I loved to see them work together. Oh and I almost forgot to mention Gary Poulter's performance as the boy's father, terrific work as well!
Joe is very dark, violent and can be sometimes disturbing showing a world filled with awful people but where there's still also good people that most of the times are judged by others without even knowing what they've been through life.
Well done David Gordon Green and welcome back to good roles Mr. Nicolas Cage!