The actual events that inspired Joe Bell are unforgettable. But this film doesn’t allow turning the true story of Joe Bell’s father’s extraordinary journey into a feature film. Reynaldo Marcus Green and written by Larry McMurtry and Diana Osana.
The scriptwriter behind the incredible film Brokeback Mountain – Joe Bell is a film with a message. That should be part of public discourse, the film’s many flaws distract. From the captivating people and events that Joe Bell is trying to honour.
Joe Bell plays Mark Wahlberg as the main character Joe:
Who is on a mission across America to raise awareness about bullying? His teenage son Jadin (Reed Miller) is openly gay. But has been punished for his willingness to express his individuality.
Through relentless harassment from his peers – especially male students. Joe is initially hesitant to intervene on his son’s behalf. Assuming things will blow up, and implies that his son is forcing it on himself by acting differently.
Lola (Connie Britton), Jedin’s mother, is right in the middle. Often struggling to play both the roles of a loving parent to a suffering child. And a supportive partner to an increasingly aggressive husband.
Joe Bell’s story is non-linear and a cross between events in the film’s present and a retrospective on the past. Joe has now travelled to honour his son and speak out against the bullying that LGBTQ teens face every day.
He is passionate about his goals. Jadin accompanies him on his journeys and is often a source of support and a sharp voice of truth. He challenges his father by putting him in his place when necessary and reminding him of what is at stake.
Miller and Wahlberg did a lot of the heavy lifting at Joe Bell. It’s no coincidence that most of the scenes they share are included in the trailer; The back and forth between a happy homos*xual son and his health. An angry father is a fertile ground for heartfelt dialogue. There is tension between the two characters.
It was made even sweeter by the respect. And unspoken love these two men have. Unfortunately, however, the film’s premise – and the director’s approach to dramatizing events. Spoil the moments so much that they are entirely inaccessible.
Joe Bell’s main problem is that it is based on a true story:
A series of events known to have occurred over the last decade. In March 2013, Joe Bell travelled for two years to America to tell his son’s story. To raise awareness of the real dangers of bullying, and encourage others to accept diversity. Joe Bell’s central premise is his father’s journey as he struggles with tragedy.
The film’s marketing doesn’t hide this. And even those who don’t know (or don’t remember) the story will likely enter the film with varying expectations.
But for some inexplicable reason, what happens to Jadin. It is treated as a “twist” that reveals the full 45 minutes of the film. It makes the entire first half of the film painful.
Perhaps Joe Bell’s biggest problem. The first act tries to humanize Jadin and give her what she should be rich in the background. Dating her father, bullying at school, and the first kiss all at once. As they contradict the scene depicted in the present. Which focuses not on Jedin but Joe.
Tone, focus, and pace are out of balance – and in the end, the two stories change briefly. There’s a mismatch between the self-assured and outspoken Jadin. Who goes to her father and the devastated and suffering teenager. Who goes by, which is never adequately explored and has disgraceful consequences.
If Joe Bell identified Jadin as a living young man tired of molesting from time to time, it could work. Instead, it happens as a father’s fantasy to grant a wish: childlessness and a relationship he regrets.