A destitute 14-year-old struggles to keep his life together despite harsh abuse at his mother's hands, harsher abuse at his father's, and a growing separation from his slightly older brother. Petty thefts for food grow into more major takes until he steals a cash box from the diner where he works. Although Joe uses the money to pay off some of his father's debts and to replace his mother's records that his father smashed in a fit of temper, Joe gets no thanks. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
Val Kilmer gained a significant amount of weight for his role as an abusive alcoholic father. See more »
Although the film is supposed to take place during the 1970s, Joe is seen wearing a name brand underwear with the company logo on the waistband. This particular brand didn't produce that style until the late 1990s. See more »
This movie came as a total surprise the other night. Intrigued with the prospect of watching Frank Whalley's take on the film, we decided to watch and it paid off royally. Mr. Whalley has learned his lesson well, both in front, and behind the camera. Frank Whalley is a man capable of getting a lot out of his cast, having been in that position himself.
The film is a disturbing account on a family that appears to be beyond dysfunctional. The father, Bob Henry, is a man that life has passed him by and has sought company with the bottle; he is the janitor in his children's school. As seems to be the case with men in this situation, Bob vents his frustrations with whoever crosses him, as we watch in horror the way he beats his wife.
Joe, the sensitive young son, is ridiculed in school by a teacher at a tender age, where compassion for his state in life would have worked better. As he grows, he becomes a a young man that will do whatever in order to get what he wants. He begins stealing from the stores he is sent on errands as well as from the restaurant where he is employed as a dishwasher. We watch him as he eats hungrily the leftovers that come his way before washing those plates. Eventually, Joe will go to stealing from his boss and getting into trouble that will scar him for life. The only kindness Joe receives is from the teacher counselor in his school.
The best achievement for the director is the acting quality he gets from his cast. Noah Fleiss, who portrays Joe, is the best thing in the film. He is a young talent to watch. Val Kilmer is seen as the father who seems to live in a permanent fog caused by his heavy drinking. Karen Young is Theresa, the suffering wife. Ethan Hawke plays the kind hearted teacher and Camryn Manheim is the horrible one.
"Joe the King" deserves a viewing because of the excellent direction of Frank Whalley.
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