What happens when an ex-con meets up with an abused drifter kid and his father? This is the premise for the latest film from Nicholas Cage and director David Gordon Green. “Joe” starts out with a bang and then flounders for me until about half way through the film when the relationship between Joe and Gary begins to form and solidify. Just goes to show you that even under the worst circumstances with the worst human beings, if one is extended kindness, support and love anything can be accomplished. Your heart bleeds for Gary, ably played by Tye Sheridan (who most recently was seen in “Mud” with Oscar winner Matthew McConaughy). It is Sheridan’s portrayal of Gary that draws me into the film from the start.
However, it the portrayal of Gary’ Dad, Wade aka G-Daawg, by Gary Poulter that will make your blood run cold. Unable to find any info on Poulter on IMDB.com, I did a little research and found an article written by Joe O’Connell for the Austin Chronicle. Here are some facts that about the homeless drifter turned actor that I found compelling. “Poulter was a drifter, who spent time in and out of rehab. He joined the army and went AWOL in Japan, becoming fluent in Japanese in the process. Poulter spent time in a traveling carnival, could breakdance, was a street performer and was an extra on thirtysomething. His prized possession was his pair of roller skates and he bonded with Nic Cage over heavy metal…”
“Poulter was also diagnosed as bipolar and had a history of violence — when he was young, he threw his brother and sister down the stairs. He dreamed of acting, although after reading about Poulter, it’s unclear just how much acting went into his portrayal of a wheeze-voiced, belligerent drifter in Joe. Certainly, he looked the part. O’Connell quotes a Facebook post from Poulter during filming:
The script called for somebody that looked like “An old man, alcoholic, prone to violence, who looked like the aftermath of a human disaster.” My first day of shooting when I went to hair and make up. I asked the woman “Bridgette” “Do you need to do anything with my appearance?” She said “No you’re good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” lol.
Unfortunately, Poulter was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2013, though in a plea for help he posted online in 2009 reveals that he’d been diagnosed with skin cancer in 2003. In February 2013, he was found dead, face down in a shallow part of Austin’s Lady Bird Lake.
One can’t help but wonder with all that the skills he possessed, what occurred in life to make him snap and how did he end up face down in a lake? At any rate, “Joe” is totally worth the view,but it is definitely not a film for the weak.