My Name Is Joe

My Name Is Joe ★★★½

I inadvertently saw this the other evening as part of my girlfriend's parents' ongoing quest to find the most depressing British film in history. Considering they chewed up Tyrannosaur with nary a batted eyelid, My Name is Joe can't have ranked too highly on the Misery-ometer, although it contains several of the necessary ingredients:

Abject poverty? - Check.
Looming alcoholism? - Check.
Mike Leigh? - Nope.
Ah ok, Ken Loach? - Check.
Scotland? - Check.
Specifically, Glasgow? - Check.
Grinding unemployment? - Check.
Blimey, all it needs is Peter Mullan! - Check, check, check.

Although, all of these are present and correct, My Name is Joe is told with humour and warmth for the characters. The budding romance between Mullan's troubled Joe, and Louise Goodall's hassled social worker is sweet and well-acted, if a tad unlikely. She seems a bit too easy to overlook his checquered history, but as this is another of those broken-kitchen-sink tales of redemption we can easily overlook this as pretty much everything else about the film rings true.

What we don't get enough of is Goodall's character Sarah's history. There are brief hints of deep trauma here and there but otherwise her motivations for her actions and reactions are a bit vague.

The ending also seems a bit abrupt and perhaps a little too bleak considering the overall tone of the film, but this is otherwise a fine entry into both Mullan and Loach's CV.