Joe Bell (2020) Review

Based on a true story of a small town working class father who embarks on a walk across the US in a crusade against bullying after his son receives vile abuse for being gay.


*Original Title – Good Joe Bell*

This review contains SPOILERS.

The tough thing about this film was that after about half an hour it was actually a totally different story to what you were lead to believe (or at least that was how I felt). We see Jadin Bell opening up to his father Joe and telling him that he is gay, in a scene that actually was not as bad as you expect. The way Joe seems to be was that he would not accept his son with that news, that was far from it. While he does not fully go into it he embraces him.

We are shown different moments in flashback from to a walk that is happening and showing some father/son bonding moments. Dancing to “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga was a total highlight. Seeing Joe really care about his son was totally great, on a walk to show that gay teens should and need to be accepted. Which I thought wow this is an incredible thing to do as a father. However, the tragedy was that Jadin had actually killed himself with not being able to cope with the abuse and bullying. Joe did not manage to project his son from this despite seeing some of it as his son was a cheerleader and things were thrown during a football game.

I was left feeling utterly empty that this was not as nice as it first seemed and more so about a fathers guilt, that he did not do enough for his son and could have done so much more. I guess if you are in the US and possibly remember this whole story then the film wouldn’t actually be that much of a mystery.

It ends in an even more tragic manner when Joe is killed during his walk, and quite frankly with all of that happening I felt as though this film could have been so much more powerful and used in a better way for the memory of the pair. It does raise some very good points about acceptance though and how difficult it really could still be for teenagers trying to come to terms with themselves.

While I was disappointed with the way the story was put across the performances were still good though with Mark Wahlberg really digging deep with the emotional trauma at times and I was impressed with his acting. Reid Miller though was an ultimate scene stealer and utterly fantastic from start to finish, he certainly has a big acting career ahead of him.

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