Cinematic Releases: Josie (2018) - Reviewed

Sophie Turner stars in Josie

Historically in fiction, things do not end well for older men who become involved with young, beautiful women, yet somehow, most seem unable, or unwilling, to stop themselves from falling victim. In director Eric England’s Josie, quiet, strange, country Hank, played by Dylan McDermott (The Practice, American Horror Story) finds himself crawling out of his hidey hole to moon over the new girl in town, Josie, played by Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner. And it’s not just Hank that takes notice of Josie; her surprise arrival sends the small town reeling. It’s not like a gorgeous, tattooed, provocatively dressed high school student who moves into her own apartment, sans parents, is going to go unnoticed. Also noticed is Hank’s reaction and attraction to Josie. Penned by Anthony Ragnone II, Josie takes a new look at a timeless trope, and based on the strength of the final act, leaves the audience wondering what in the hell just happened, in the best possible way.

The film itself is like its title character, leisurely and relaxed. There’s an alluring air of nonchalance around Josie and her actions, and the film follows suit. This adds to the questioning of Josie’s motives. Sophie Turner is a revelation, playing her hand close to her chest through the entire film. It’s unclear if she intends to have the effect she clearly has on the boys and men leapfrogging each other for her attention, or if she really is just that cool. Her interactions with McDermott’s Hank, and his reactions to those moments, do nothing to clear the air. How could she possibly not notice the way he responds to her, and if that is the case, why wouldn’t she limit her interactions to protect both of them?

Undoubtedly, the best part of the film is the payoff. At times, the sluggish pace of the plot can be a bit much. There truly isn’t much action, it’s the slowest of slow burns, but goodness is it worth it. Josie is one of those films that has you expecting to end up in your own backyard, but somehow, when the journey is over, you’ve found yourself at Disneyland.

There is no shortage of films that make women responsible for the bad behavior of men, and I had concerns at first that this would be another of those movies. I am happy to report that this is definitely not that case. While slow moving, there is a richness in the performances that stops it from becoming boring, and the conclusion is well worth the confusion about where you’re headed. 

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-Josie Stec