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Santiago Baker
Santiago Baker

Good Joe Bell ~UPD~

Joe Bell had its world premiere at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival on September 14, 2020, and was released in the United States on July 23, 2021, by Roadside Attractions. The film received mixed reviews from critics, who were divided on whether it was feel-good and inspirational or reductive and contrived.

Good Joe Bell

Peter Debruge of Variety was more critical, calling the film a "didactic anti-bullying melodrama that feels more akin to old-school TV movies" and saying that "[a] movie like this would be a good start, if this were 1980. A decade and a half after Brokeback Mountain, however, it feels like a huge step backward."[20]

Bell was driven by the loss of his son Jadin, an openly gay 15-year-old who killed himself after months of being tormented by bigots at his high school. The dramatized movie version of this story is poised between no-budget indie-film intimacy and Hollywood bombast. The emphasis on the father's grief often crowds out the suffering of Jadin, his mother, and other major characters (mainly in the first section, its weakest). As the movie, like its hero, trudges dutifully to its climax, there's no shortage of unnecessary trickery in the telling (including a non-chronological structure, and the re-use of a particular cliche that was all over the place in the late 1990s and early aughts, and should be retired forever; you'll know it when you see it). "Joe Bell" is carried by its good heart, generally strong performances, and superb direction by Reinaldo Marcus Green ("Monsters and Men"), and there are moments when you can see a stronger, more focused film struggling to escape the morass.

A road paved with good intentions, GOOD JOE BELL begins as a story about the shared physical and emotional journey of Joe Bell and his fifteen-year old son, Jadin, who, bullied over his homosexuality, committed suicide in 2013.

From that beginning, the film has nowhere to go but down. Wahlberg, so good in action movies, struggles in a role in which a long walk takes the place of flying fists, gun play, and car chases. Any actor might have foundered playing a character that is thinly written and is stranded in a film less interested in telling a story than in teaching a lesson. The Bells are reduced to symbols of problems that plague society. Flesh-and-blood people deserve better.

Much like the man himself, Joe Bell has a good heart but struggles to show it. Its themes of kindness, love and fatherhood are spoiled by resentment toward the Church and aversion to the truth of Scripture, not to mention the constant stream of profanity and same-sex content.

Through the work of Joe and the people who have since taken the baton and shared his message, many schools have adopted anti-bullying policies and support systems for LGBTQ students. As Joe wanted schools to provide suicide prevention training to their counsellors, it is good to know that this eventually came about, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 041b061a72


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