The highway to hell isn’t the one path paved with good intentions.
“Joe Bell” — a brand new drama primarily based on the true story of a person who, impressed by the horrible remedy his homosexual teenage son confronted, determined to stroll throughout the nation to lift consciousness of the hazards of bullying — seems to be as well-intentioned as motion pictures come. Seemingly, it’s a movie most involved with honoring the true Joe and Jadin Bell.
That’s totally admirable. Sadly, “Joe Bell” nonetheless is totally common.
From director Reinaldo Marcus Inexperienced (“Monsters and Males”) and the “Brokeback Mountain” writing tandem of Diana Ossana and novelist Larry McMurtry, “Joe Bell” stars Mark Wahlberg within the titular position.
The film is advised in a non-linear style and opens with Joe already on his stroll, pushing a carriage along with his provides and tent alongside a stretch of Idaho pavement as vehicles and semi-trucks go him. Jadin (Reid Miller) quickly seems from the opposite aspect of the highway to criticize his dad for strolling with visitors as an alternative of in opposition to it.
Additionally they speak about why Joe is doing this for Jadin, even when it sounds Joe remains to be working by means of a few of that.
It’s apparent Joe’s acceptance of what Jadin’s sexual orientation has meant for him has been a metaphorical journey, and we quickly get the primary of a number of flashback scenes that take us again to the Bell house in La Grande, Oregon.
On this one, Joe has simply put in an enormous new flat-screen TV in the lounge and is 10 minutes from watching a giant recreation with just a few mates. With the blessing of his mom, Lola (Connie Britton, “Promising Younger Girl”), Jadin pulls Joe away to come back out to him.
(That this fictionalized model of Jadin chooses this actual second to inform him he’s homosexual feels greater than a bit contrived.) Though Joe doesn’t react the way in which we concern he might — refusing to consider this about his son or worse — he does counsel it could be greatest for Jadin to remain within the closet.
Understandably, that’s not what Jadin needs. He needs to reside his life and to be accepted for who he’s. Sadly, that’s not the way it goes on this small city, which Jadin plans to ditch for New York Metropolis when it’s time for school.
However can he cling on till then?
By taking over this time-consuming enterprise, Joe has left Lola and one other son, Joseph (Maxwell Jenkins, “Misplaced in Area”), at house, which has put a pressure on the household. That stress reaches a boiling level after they meet Joe on the highway to spend a bit time with him and Joe’s anger will get the most effective of him.
Principally, although, Joe spends his time pounding the pavement, stopping to provide displays to highschool assemblies filled with bored college students. He additionally visits a homosexual bar on drag night time to speak with some people to higher perceive what they’ve gone by means of of their lives.
Wahlberg (“Spenser Confidential,” “Infinite”) is greatest when he portrays a, effectively, common Joe, so he’s comparatively effectively solid right here. He handles some emotional scenes properly, even when loads of different actors would have introduced extra to them.
His greatest scenes — and the film’s most interesting general — function Miller (“A Lady Named Joe”). The younger actor, in comparatively restricted display screen time, makes Jadin relatable and helps to deliver house simply how painful life may be for individuals in a scenario like his.
Additionally, Gary Sinise provides the movie a little bit of a late raise as a sheriff who encounters Joe and finds he has issues in widespread with him.
“Joe Bell” packs a few dramatic punches within the type of plot developments prone to shock people not accustomed to the story of the true Joe Bell.
Finally, at solely 90 minutes, “Joe Bell” feels undeniably slight.
The very best factor you’ll be able to say in regards to the film is, regardless of just a few acquainted storytelling conventions, it feels fairly actual. Maybe, although, it might have benefited from a bit extra Hollywood embellishment.
There nearly absolutely was a extra highly effective story to be advised right here than “Joe Bell” has to supply.
The place: Theaters.
When: July 23.
Rated: R for language together with offensive slurs, some disturbing materials, and teenage partying.
Runtime: 1 hour, half-hour.
Stars (of 4): 2.