Movie Review: “Here Lies Joe” Ponders The Existence Of Suicide And Pancakes

"Director Mark Battle successfully captures the seriousness of suicidal tendencies and infuses it with much-needed humor, without ever mocking suicide itself, making light of the characters and their idiosyncratic personalities instead."


 

A depressed man attends a support group where he meets a capricious woman who upends his day and maybe his life.

When Joe (Dean Temple) attends his first Suicide Anonymous meeting, things start off promisingly enough as he is introduced to the group members but his life changes, dramatically, when Z (Andi Morrow) walks into the room. While the rest of the group are very withdrawn and introverted, Z is the opposite: she is spunky, animated, and not afraid to speak her mind.

After reading aloud, a poem about suicide, which she was asked not to read by the group leader Bill (Timothy J. Cox), for fear that her honesty might upset the other members, Joe immediately takes a liking to her. After the meeting, she bums a ride with him and on the way home, she has him stop off at a graveyard where she proceeds to inform him about the graveyard’s inhabitants, their names, occupations, and whether they like each other. Somewhat irritated by her unpredictable ramblings and mischievousness (climbing trees and carving her name into them), they both wind up having a fun day together. When he drops her home, she gives him her phone number and then disappears inside her house. Later, as they both independently contemplate suicide, just as everything looks despondent for them both, a phone call changes their lives, for the better.

Director Mark Battle successfully captures the seriousness of suicidal tendencies and infuses it with much-needed humor, without ever mocking suicide itself, making light of the characters and their idiosyncratic personalities instead. Andi Morrow as the effervescent Z, brings the necessary quirkiness and temperamental traits needed to offset Dean temple’s solemn but earnest portrayal of Joe, a man at the end of his rope. The film never tells you why each character wants to take their own life but we are given hints and clues along the way. Joe lives in a beat-up old car with his life’s belongings in the back seat, including a photo of him on his wedding day so it’s easy to surmise that his wife either left him, or passed away, hence, his desire to want to be with her.

The movie never once feels forced and illuminates the fact that just when you feel there is no way out, sometimes, a person can walk into your life and change it forever. The very first film I made when I came to the U.S. in 1994, was a comedy titled “In the Spotlight,” and it told the story of a woman wanting to commit suicide because her boyfriend left her and I had to be very careful that I never once made light of suicide itself, but rather the precarious situation she found herself in as she stood on a high, old abandoned railway bridge, accompanied by a celestial being. Thankfully, director Mark Battle does the same here and by the time the film ends and the credits begin to roll, you find yourself wanting to stay with Joe and Z, to see where their lives are going to go from here.

HERE LIES JOE Teaser Trailer from Sweven Films on Vimeo.

 
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James McDonald

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, James is a Movie Critic and Celebrity Interviewer with over 30 years of experience in the film industry as an Award-Winning Filmmaker.
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