I’ve always been one to love long-length films– the ones I see in the movie theaters and spend hours later raving over how good they were. The ones I write thousands of words upon how we need a sequel. If it’s shorter than an hour, I usually end up not watching it. However, there was something about the short film, JOE, that was so captivating and relatable that I couldn’t help but gaze with my eyes glued to the screen for the full 20 minutes.
From the characters, to the plot, to the music and cinematography, JOE hits all of the right boxes on my checklist. The short film was directed by Kaye Tuckerman and stars actresses Bethany Nicole Taylor, Shara Ashley Zeiger, and actor Sean MacLaughlin. The film is already loved by teens and young adults across the world.
The main characters include Jillian, Monica, and Joe. The film centers on Jillian who works at a coffee shop, ironically called Joe’s Coffee, with Monica. When she meets Joe, she ends up leaving out the fact that she works at a coffee shop and pretends like she has a corporate job. This obviously ends up getting her in a lot of trouble. However, in the end there is a concrete resolution to this conflict.
The plot was overall a unique, relatable idea, but there were some awkward parts in the film where the dialogue or screenplay wasn’t done as skillfully as it could have been. It was a very realistic storyline and the comedy utilized throughout tied together the film. How Joe handles the lies that Jillian tells him is very admirable as well and the writers of the show clearly maintained a comforting tone, avoiding cringey moments at all costs.
JOE introduces several relatable characters throughout the film. Each character is unique and the acting is done with stellar quality. For example, the boss in the movie was one of the best characters, with her incredibly funny and relatable characteristics. Jillian’s roommates are ridiculous, but the humor they add in at certain points is hilarious and much needed. The friendship dynamic between Monica and Jillian, and the dynamic between Jillian and Joe were both done incredibly well. The picnic scene between Jillian and Joe was one of my favorites because they’re just so adorable together. Notably, the facial expressions and tones were amusing and felt so real. The actors and actresses clearly were professionals and portrayed their characters terrifically.
Music & Cinematography
The music and cinematography did not go above and beyond, but still had some charismatic components that made the film special. The music could be awkward at times, but most of the time, it fit the mood and vibes of the scene. Other times, the music can also be loud and distracting. Despite the substandard music sometimes, the cinematography style was one of my favorites.
Throughout the majority of the film, there is a slight shaking of the camera, which adds a more realistic quality. Different views are also sprinkled in which helps with audience engagement. The only part I didn’t like too much about the cinematography was the setting of Jillian’s parents, which was always the same place with odd lighting. Since that was only two or three scenes, it didn’t make a huge difference.
The theme conveyed throughout was not the focus of the film, but still there was a moral to the story. The movie explores discovering who you want to be and the importance of honesty. These themes were not unique, but the film having at least this was satisfying. Jillian, the main character, is not honest with Joe from the beginning. This does hurt their relationship at the end. For any relationship to build, there must be trust. However, Joe does forgive Jillian fairly quickly and transitions into discovering oneself.
I wish Joe would’ve stayed a little longer on the topic of honesty and its importance because he had just glazed over it. Telling a lie like that from the beginning of a relationship is not healthy and I feel that it could’ve been addressed a little better. Furthermore, when the characters do go into discovering oneself, it is also very disregarded. They spend about less than two minutes discussing this and basically end the film from there.
The “It” Factor
What really makes this film shine though is not its music, or plot line, or the theme. It’s the relatable qualities of the storyline; it’s the pulse and connection between the viewer and the characters; the film is universally applicable. It’s okay to me that the music was awkward at times. The themes were not discussed as in depth as I would have liked. Despite all of that, the film possessed a quality even greater.
JOE was able to connect with the audience. I can completely imagine myself dropping to the ground when Joe comes into the coffee shop and Jillian doesn’t know what to do. I can see myself reacting in the same way Jillian does throughout the entire show. Connecting to the viewer is incredibly hard in most films, but JOE had a simple, yet stunning storyline that consisted of the perfect measurement of humor tangled with a large helping of relatable romance and life.