review by Bobby Blakey
Some of the most amazing stories out there are real life tales and often times pretty tragic. Mark Wahlberg’s latest Joe Bell looks to be one of those film and features a great cast including Connie Britton, Reid Miller and Gary Sinise from Monsters and Men director Reinaldo Marcus Green. Could this film manage to capture the essence of this tragic story or will it get lost on the road?
Joe Bell follows the intimate and emotional true story of an Oregonian father who pays tribute to his gay teenage son Jadin, embarking on a self-reflective walk across America to speak his heart to heartland citizens about the real and terrifying costs of bullying.
I was intrigued instantly in this film mostly because it was a different kind of role for Wahlberg. This is a more subtle role that is really dealing with a lot of emotion struggle that he is really forced to flex those acting muscles as opposed to his physicality in his action roles. Wahlberg is so good here bringing a wide range of attitudes and emotions throughout the two different time lines the story is playing out through.
The story structure is interesting in the way it is laid out with it simultaneously telling both the story of his journey as well the circumstances regarding his son that led to these events. They could have easily muddied up the other, but thankfully it blends well to feed on each other and the emotional punch of this heartbreaking story. As impactful as it is there was something just missing to really bring that punch home for me.
Maybe it’s the jaded mentality of needing that scene or visual moment to bring some truth to it, but knowing where this was headed I guess I thought it was going to have a bigger moment to slap you in the face. I don’t mean to demean how it is handled as I am sure it was probably a better decision given the circumstances in the truth to it all. Beyond this I felt it was a great movie, but one that is really sad and heartbreaking while still offering up a tale of loss, acceptance and redemption in a sadly way to relevant story to today.
Despite my likely unwarranted issues this is an important movie to be seen. With all the issues of bullying, gay rights and acceptance today this is a story that deserves to be seen if for no other reason to keep shining the light on not only the acceptance, but the affects all this can have on both the victims and those in their lives.
Check out Joe Bell in theaters now from Roadside Attractions.