Rated 4.0

Nicolas Cage is in “good” acting mode and dons a decent hairpiece as the title character in the latest drama from director David Gordon Green. Cage's Joe is a strange sort, showing a maximum amount of restraint and responsibility on the job with his tree killing company. When on site with his men, Joe is not only an in control boss, but a friendly, mostly well modulated man. Off the job, it's a different story. He drinks heavily, frequents whorehouses, taunts the police and does overnighters in jail. In one of the film's more amusing sequences, he gets fed up with a hooker's dog, and decides to allow her dog to meet his dog. Cage's acting in this very scene is his best since going nuts in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call-New Orleans. Joe winds up hiring Gary (Tye Sheridan), a teenage boy, and his troublesome father Wade (Gary Poulter). Gary is a good worker, and he and Joe strike up a friendship. As for Wade, he's a nightmare, unproductive on the job and threatening towards his son. Wade's not invited back, and when Joe finds out Wade is prone to beating and robbing his son, he goes on the protective prowl. Poulter was an actual homeless man hired off the streets for the film, and he is a terrifying, tragic presence in this movie (he died, still homeless, before the film finished production). Sheridan, so good in Mud and The Tree of Life, is equally good here. This is one of those films where Cage reminds us that he's more than just a paycheck actor. (Available for rent on VOD, iTunes and during a limited theatrical release.)