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1 review, 5 user ratings

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Joe's so Mean to Josephine
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by Dr. Isaksson

"The Unstable Relationship"
3 stars

Director Peter Wellington's "Joe's so Mean to Josephine" is a complex and emotional film, but the fine layout is hampered by a thin plot. The story centers on Joe and Josephine, (played by Eric Thal and Sarah Polley) a pair of unlikely lovers wrapped up in a relationship that never seems to know if it's going to work out. Or where it's even going to at all.

The film is notable as being one of the first 'adult' roles for Sarah Polley who plays Josephine, a college student who is taking a semester off so she can try her hand at some amateur journalism. As the film opens, we see Josephine spot Joe in a bar one evening. Joe (Eric Thal) is a big, quiet guy and Josephine is instantly attracted to him. After the first sighting of each other Josephine runs into Joe again when he turns up at Josephine's house to repair a phone for her mother. Joe is employed at a telephone corporation but secretly works as a wire tapper. He and his pal Mike (Don McKeller) are currently surveilling some people who are only defined as "doing something bad." (We, however, never learn what that bad thing is.)

Joe initially hooks up with Josephine as a one night sex fling but Josephine is smitten with the big guy and begins to visit him at his apartment. A relationship then ensues. But from the very start the two cannot seem to understand each other at all and they have many disagreements based almost wholly on personal misunderstandings. Joe never intended to get involved with the giddy and naive Josephine, but as time goes on he becomes increasingly attached to her. Still, the two can never seem to make their very different lives meld and throughout the film they head into one mini breakup after another.

After one particular fallout, Josephine gets good news. Her writing career has begun to take off and she is asked to interview a well known jazz musician and then write a caption for a clothing line endorsed by him. As these events brighten Josephine's horizon, they only darken Joe's emotional unstability. He wants Josephine, but cannot fit in with her friends and her career driven mode of life. He tries to clean up his image by dressing better and molding his temper to win over Josephine but this doesn't seem to work either. After another fallout, Josephine finally decides to call it quits. Joe, on the other hand, just cannot let her go.

The film's climax is a powerful and very intriguing outburst of emotions where the pair's hopes, ambitions and desires swarm about in uncertainty. Josephine cannot understand why she was so attracted to Joe and Joe cannot understand why he can't move on without her.

As for it's overall impression, Joe's so Mean to Josephine has a slim plot, leaving much more space for the dynamics of the relationship. The two leads (Sarah Polley and Eric Thal) are both very engaging and interesting to watch. It is really great to see Sarah Polley not in period clothing and playing a character that seems very unlike herself. And Eric Thal is excellent as a frustrated guy who cannot fit in with the world around him. Director Peter Wellington charges his film with an incredibly well thought out relationship study. Yet, as a viewer I still had these problems. With all it's intricate settings, Joe's so Mean to Josephine never delves into WHY Joe's so unstable. He says at one point in the film."I don't feel very well the way I am." and one has to wonder why he doesn't. Joe has a lot of mental baggage but we never get an answer as to how it got there. The film concludes without any real feeling of closure and that (to me) was a bit unsettling because overall I really do like this film.

I admit that sometimes, it's good when the filmgoer is not spoon fed every little detail or reason as to why a person acts and feels the way they do, but here we get very little pertaining to Joe's past. And very little concerning Josephine's future with him. No information as to what made Joe the person that he is and what will Josephine do about her feelings for him. Even though the film is well acted, the biggest gripe I have about Joe's so Mean to Josephine is Joe. He is a really interesting character but we are never led into his past in order to understand his present. I think director Peter Wellington just ran out of film.

"Joe's so Mean to Josephine" is a dreary looking and solemn film about a couple whose only real strength seems to be in knowing how to break up with each other. Time and time again. Interesting premise, not quite complete. *** 3 Stars

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=5556&reviewer=296
originally posted: 02/23/02 17:16:06
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User Comments

5/07/08 Pjewel I too HATED the ending. I think a lot more could have been given to the viewer. 4 stars
1/06/07 Evis Limaj Terrible ending. I would have really liked to know if J and J were going to hook up again. 4 stars
8/16/06 mark joe was not supposed to be understood fools 5 stars
10/05/03 Brigitte I agree with the review. An intriguing character study that could have gone even further. 3 stars
2/25/02 wintermute Very little substance and very very dull 2 stars
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