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Stars: Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter, Adriene Mishler, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Sue Rock, Heather Kafka

Director: David Gordon Green

This is a rewarding and finally touching film for those who can stay the course as, for all its merits - and it has some well-handled shocking scenes - the movie is about half an hour too long and spends too much of its time on brooding close-ups of the central character.

He's Joe (Cage close to his best), an ex-con with an explosive temper, now the boss of a penny-ante logging team working on felling unwanted trees on the borders of Austin, Texas. Into Joe's blue-collar world of hookers, fags (his cough is ominous) and booze comes 15-year-old Gary (Sheridan) and his bedraggled, but evil father (Poulter, a homeless man who died soon after filming).

The boy gets a job on Joe's gang, but is beaten up and has his earnings taken by his boozy father. Meanwhile, Joe himself is shot in the shoulder by a thoroughly nasty type (Blevins) he bested in a bar. Clearly, this is not going to end well, especially when Gary's father makes off with the boy's mute sister, whose favours he plans to sell.

Well shot on location by Tim Orr, the film does make you care about its characters, and will get to you if you give it time, with Cage's considered performance always at the heart of things.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: Artificial Eye. Metrocolor.
117 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 20 Jul 2014