There was a part in this film where Mark Wahlberg’s character starts singing “Born This Way.” Which means that technically, if even for a brief moment, we get a Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch rendition of a Lady Gaga song.
Joe Bell was released in 2021 and was directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green. The film starts Reid Miller as Jadin Bell, and Mark Wahlberg as the title character. Based on the true story, Joe Bell shows the journey of a man who, in 2013, decided to walk from his home state of Oregon to New York City, in hopes of spreading his anti-bullying message across the nation, in the name of his son, Jadin.
All of the cast do a great job at reacting to different situations in real ways. Each of them are wonderful for different reasons, but Wahlberg is the stand out. It’s clear by his performance this was something he cared about, and spent a lot of time rehearsing. It’s definitely one of his best roles in recent years, as he feels so human on-screen, making mistakes and awkwardly trying to apologize on multiple occasions. His character development feels natural, and doesn’t try to ‘Hollywood,’ the legacy of the real man.
One of the most impressive feats made by the script comes with its use of flashback sequences. The film relies on them in order to tell its story, but the way they’re implemented is more along the lines of something like the Jason Bourne movies, by that, I mean these flashback sequences blend seamlessly within the present story using parallel story structure. It feels like the narrative starts in the middle of the second act, and we don’t find out what the inciting incident was until we see the flashback later, which was a cool and fresh way to present this story.
The film overall, does a great job a dealing with the real world issues shown such as bullying, domestic abuse, and suicide. Although, it’s impossible to ignore the moments where the film does feel a little preachy.
Weirdly, the cinematography is one of Joe Bell’s strongest attributes, with some establishing shots in particular of mountain ranges being beautiful.
Joe Bell at times can make you wonder if you signed up for a lecture instead of a film, but the strong performances do a great job a keeping you invested and wanting to see where the story leads next.
[My grade for Joe Bell is a B]