My Name is Joe

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Goodall also turns in an affecting performance as love interest Sarah. Her relationship with Mullan's Joe unfolds sweetly and tentatively, and with her shy laugh and ordered life, it's easy to see she represents what-could-be for the sobered-up Scotsman. However, the script skimps on its supporting characters, and while early scenes hint that Sarah, too, harbors some hesitations about love, the film never pursues these obvious conflicts with any depth. A tad self-righteous to boot, Sarah sadly settles into just another long-suffering woman.

Meanwhile, the melodrama is as thick as these lads' burrs (subtitles, gratefully, are provided), and several scenes, most notably the film's feverish climax, careen beyond the realm of credulity. Resonating through all of this, of course, are echoes of Loach's well-established leftist bent. However, unlike his earlier work, the political undertones never usurp the earnest, heart-felt emotion of these blokes' struggles.

Indeed, as to be expected from cinema's most dogged chronicler of the working-class scrapper, Loach never buffs the grittiness of his tale with sermons or sentimentality. Poignant and powerful, the director's latest isn't your average Joe.

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