VOD REVIEW: Mark Wahlberg shines in uneven Joe Bell

There’s no doubting that the past violent, scandalous behaviour of this film’s star has taken a toll on how critics – and viewers – have viewed it.

Though Mark Wahlberg has since turned his life around, it seems not everyone is ready to forgive.

Joe Bell follows the true story of a working class man who starts a journey of healing after his gay son kills himself following being bullied in school.

Bell walks the U.S. to try to raise awareness about bullying, accepting others’ sexuality, and he finds some redemption along the way.

Director Reinaldo Marcus Green pulls at your heartstrings – the movie made me me cry a few times – but it does feel a bit too tied together at times. This is a messy story, and unfortunately, it feels like a bow was just put on it.

That said, Mark Wahlberg – and we can debate his casting another day – gives his strongest performance since The Departed here. Young Reid Miller proves he’s an A-lister waiting in the wings, and both Connie Britton and the underrated Gary Sinise bring some depth to supporting turns.

Joe Bell isn’t perfect, but if you’re looking for a rainy afternoon tearjerker, this one does the trick.

3.5/5 Stars

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