“Joe Bell,” a new based-on-true events drama starring Mark Wahlberg and now on VOD, is a film with a message and a disarming way of delivering it.
Wahlberg is the good man of the title, Joe Bell, husband to Lola (Connie Britton), father to sons Joseph (Maxwell Jenkins) and Jadin (Reid Miller), a young gay man who took his own life after repeated bullying from the jocks at his high school. Unable to resolve his feelings, Joe hits the road, vowing to walk from La Grande, Oregon to New York City, the city of Jadin’s dreams. It’s a time of solitude for Joe to wrestle with his own complicity in his son’s death and make stops along the way to mumble his way through halting speeches about bullying at local high schools.
Written by the “Brokeback Mountain” screenwriting team of Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, “Joe Bell” has its heart in the right place but makes missteps along Joe’s journey.
Told with flashbacks interspersed throughout the present-day action, (the story takes place in 2013), “Joe Bell” looks for new ways to tell the true story. Using Joe’s anguish as a starting point, it conjures up images from his imagination to fill the screen while he is on his solitary journey. (MILD SPOILER ALERT) Jadin appears as a device for Joe to ease his guilty mind. It’s a way of establishing what could have been, had Jadin not ended his life and mostly it works as Reid gives his character a youthful exuberance that makes his absence in real life more acute.
Minus those scenes “Joe Bell” is a slight film. The message, that kids are marginalized and bullied every day, everywhere, is potent and important but the film’s earnest repetitiveness threatens to reduce the point to a series of platitudes.
Good supporting performances from Miller, Britton and Gary Sinise as a sympathetic police officer, share the screen with Wahlberg who is, essentially, a one note character with a scraggly beard. His inability to truly articulate his feelings hinders the character’s effectiveness. A message movie should have a central character able to bring the moral to life. Wahlberg’s take on Bell is not that character.
“Joe Bell” is a movie about soul searching, with a good message, that never finds its way.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the family drama “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix), dark satire “Promising Young Woman” (in theatres) and the documentary “The Dissident” (VOD/Digital).
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Anita Sharma to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the intense drama “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix), dark satire “Promising Young Woman” (in theatres) and the documentary “The Dissident” (VOD/Digital).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the intense drama “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix), dark satire “Promising Young Woman” (in theatres) and the documentary “The Dissident” (VOD/Digital).
It would be easy to suggest that “Promising Young Woman,” a new drama starring Carey Mulligan, is simply a “Falling Down” for the #MeToo era but it is much more than that. It has elements of that but it is also an audacious look at rape culture and male privilege that weaves dark humour and revenge into the ragged fabric of its story.
It’s difficult to talk about “Promising Young Woman” without being spoilerific but here goes: Mulligan is Cassandra, a thirty-year-old drop out from medical school. She lives at home with her parents (Clancy Brown and Jennifer Coolidge), works at a coffee shop with her best, and only friend, Gail (Laverene Cox). “If I wanted a house, a career, a yoga class and a boyfriend my mom could brag about I’d do it,” she says. “In ten minutes. But I don’t want it.”
At night she hits the clubs, pretending to be intoxicated, waiting for men to approach her. Just when they think she is at her most vulnerable, she “comes to.” “What is this?” says one of the “nice guys” who tries to take advantage of her. “Are you some kind of psycho? I thought you were…” “Drunk?” she says, finishing his sentence.
At home she has a notebook, filled a list of the men she has encountered and the several names in store for a “day of reckoning.”
There’s more but one of the pleasures of “Promising Young Woman” is in its ability to surprise and shock with the story’s twists and turns. There is a lot in play here. The action here is fueled by Cassie’s trauma but writer-director Emerald Fennell keeps the action off kilter with the introduction of dark satire, revenge, an exploration of toxic masculinity and even some rom com-esque scenes. The culmination of all these disparate components is a film with a strange tone but a clear-cut point of view. It’s social commentary as art and it works.
Mulligan appears in virtually every frame, navigating the story’s left turns and holding its centre no matter what is thrown at her. The sense of loss that drives her is always present—she even wears a broken heart pendent—even when she is in control, steely-eyed and ready to rumble.
“Promising Young Woman” is occasionally rough around the edges structurally but despite its flaws is compelling and surprising.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the final instalment of the Skywalker Saga, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the weirdest movie of the year, “Cats” and the ripped from the headlines drama “Bombshell,” starring Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly.
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Todd van der Heyden to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the end of the road for the Skywalker Saga, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the weirdest movie of the year, “Cats” and “Bombshell,” featuring Charlize Theron as Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including “Cats,” the weirdest movie of the year, the lightsaber action of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and “Bombshell,” the inside story of Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment suit against Roger Ailes.
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks at the conclusion of everybody’s favourite space opera, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” “Cats,” starring a collection of half human-half cat rejects from The Island of Dr. Moreau and “Bombshell,” the inside story of sexual harassment at Fox News.