Movie Review – Joe Bell (2021)

Joe Bell, 2021.

Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Reid Miller, Connie Britton, Maxwell Jenkins, Morgan Lily, Tara Buck, Brandon Ray Olive, Ash Santos, Igby Rigney, Blaine Maye, and Gary Sinise.

SYNOPSIS:

The true story of a small-town working-class dad who embarks on a solo walk across America to make a crusade against bullying after his son is tormented in high school for being gay.

Mark Wahlberg portrays Joe Bell in real life, who in 2013 toured America on foot (surprisingly captured with wide-angle shots that emphasize distance traveled) to preach about the harms of bullying, specifically homophobia and bigotry. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins Starting in the small Oregon hometown with a destination in New York (for reasons that become clear as Joe Bell goes on), we first see Joe lecturing a high school on pain and the side effects that torment can inflict. He then proceeds to end his speech with a note that acceptance begins at home when parents allow children to express their identity and be themselves. Once back on the road, he faces his son Jadin (a powerful Reid Miller, unfortunately, somewhat wasted since it is mostly a flimsy character study of Joe).

The latter reminds his father that he did not practice exactly what he just promoted. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins Joe begs to differ, and then director Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men) takes us back to a flashback from nine months ago.

Jadin comes out as homosexual to his mother Lola (the much more tolerant and tender father figure, played by Connie Britton) and his father Joe, who claims to be fine with his son’s sexuality but clearly internalizes homophobia and shows great concern for his reputation and what it is. other families will think. His solution for Jadin is to raise his fists and start fighting, pressuring his teenage son with outdated masculinity without bothering to delve into what hazing and bullying is at school. He is mostly embarrassed by the guy who practices cheerleading in the front yard with his best friend Marcie (Morgan Lily), insisting that he be taken to the back yard away from critical eyes, while his friends assure him that homosexuality it is simply a phase.

Throughout the first 45 minutes or so, the direction and script (written by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry) strike a fair balance between studying the infighting within Joe Bell and the horrors that Jadin faces on a daily basis (which is not they are sanitized and uncomfortable to watch). Switching from one place to another nine months apart allows both Joe Bell and the public to see not necessarily the hypocrisy, but the flaws in his thinking and the reasons for his walk in America. Joe seems to think a change can be made by handing fans a flyer on the effects of bigotry, just as global corporations think displaying a sincere activist alliance is equivalent to updating a social media avatar or hollow gestures that don’t leave an impression. shocking. As more details about the story and his past come to light (there is a certain event that seems to have worsened his toxic behavior and borderline verbal abuse, further painting a portrait of a complicated person), the well-intentioned purpose of his The search begins to feel wrong. It’s as if Joe Bell is hiding from the truth, from his own actions, and from the role he played in allowing the abuse to continue. In particular, a scene inside a drag bar concludes with an itchy emotional revelation, changing the course of the narrative for better or for worse.

This is where the narrative decides to make Joe Bell the main focus, triggering a series of sentimental sequences that, while Mark Wahlberg acts tremendously with respect and emotion and ranks among some of his best work to date, can’t escape it’s the mistake. trajectory. Jadin’s life, which starts out as the middle of the narrative, practically fades (until it’s time for a critical scene) and leaves no intriguing place for the rest to stray from redemption. The self-reflection is largely gone, Jadin’s vision of life disappears, there is a lack of scenes between the two, and Joe Bell somehow loses complexity as a person. It’s also strange that a movie that tries to explore manhood in different ways in which a boy still shows an interest in soccer (even if he’s a cheerleader and trying to date a closet runner) doesn’t do much of that juxtaposition. There are some more speeches and some interactions

with a sheriff (Gary Sinise) who empathizes with Joe’s journey due to having a gay son himself, but not much is attractive. Fortunately, the movie doesn’t go too far into misery porn either.

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