The Last Rites of Joe May (2011) Poster

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People trying to cope with their difficult lives and personal demons
suegoldberg1327 September 2011
"The Last Rites of Joe May" has an excellent cast, headed by Dennis Farina, and wonderful screenplay (Joe Maggio). It's well directed and has quite an emotional impact on the viewer. Joe May is a man who has aspired to be more than he ever could be and refuses to accept the reality of his age and lack of achievements. He has few, if any, personal relationships, friendships or family. His arrival in the midst of Jenny and Angelina Rapp's lives is more important than any of them realize. Watching them interact and change and grow as people is both beautiful and painful. Truly realistic and moving. I was impressed with everything, from the portrayals of even the smallest parts to the details of Chicago streets and the understated score by Lindsay Marcus (not to mention Giuseppe Verdi).
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I can't remember a better film.
steve-172-68623128 September 2011
From the title and opening scene I was so engaged to see what lay ahead for the main character, Joe May. I also felt several strong and differing emotions and was reminded that this is how film (/art) should make you feel.

Every component that made up this film; acting, soundtrack, setting, cast, etc, seemed to merge together perfectly to make it "real". So real that at least a portion of the characters reminded me of people I've known. In addition, one or two themes really struck home and have me thinking about life a little differently today. I expect everyone will relate/connect to certain aspects of this DON'T MISS film.
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Farino hits it out of the park!
largopiano129 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Ever since "Get Shorty", I have been a Farino fan...but in this dark hard hitting drama, if he's not in the running for an Oscar then there's as much wrong with the Oscar nominating process as there is in the selection of the noble prize. Throughout the movie I was hoping for a Hollywood ending, but as the title suggests, not today.

Direction, casting and lets not forget location...perfection which adds to the genre and feeling of this memorable flick.

The entire cast drives this movie home... Heck, I even enjoyed the way the ending credits played, with a continuation of the sound track from the last scene played on.. Definitely in my top 100 must see movies...
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Brilliant. The performance of Dennis's career
NateWatchesCoolMovies17 June 2016
The Last Rites of Joe May is Dennis Farina's bittersweet swan song, his final exodus from a long, epic and beloved career, showcasing the actor in the role he was always meant to play, and a lead role no less. He did a few other films after this one and a priceless cameo on Family Guy, but this is the spiritual final entry, and when you look at the story of the film, it's both eerie and fateful that the man would go on to pass away just a few years later. He plays Joe May here, a Chicago wiseguy and short money hustler who has been in the hospital with pneumonia for almost a year. Upon returning to his borough, he finds his apartment rented out to a woman (Jamie Anne Allman) and her daughter (Meredith Droeger), all his belongings sold, and his presence pretty much forgotten, with some even under the belief that he has died. The woman takes pity on him and let's him stay in his apartment with them if he helps her out, and he goes back to the same hustling, or at least tries too. All his ventures have gone dry, his former boss (a splendid Gary Cole) giving the cold shoulder. Joe starts to realize that one must face the eventual consequences of a life lived in selfishness and foolhardy actions, as he finds himself alone in the world and shunned even by his own son. He gets a shot at redemption upon having the little girl in his life, and being there to help out her mother who has one lowlife monster of a boyfriend that just happens to be a cop. Farina is sensational in every scene, and it's a shame the guy didn't ever get more lead roles. He makes Joe a grim yet sympathetic being who serves as a sorrowful reminder of how we all will arrive at the end of our road someday, and how important it is to line said road with good deeds, kindness, respect and worthwhile ventures, even if they only show up in the last few miles of it. This is a Tribeca festival film so it's tough to find, but anyone with a love for Farina or simple, well told and emotional stories should definitely check it out. The beautiful piano score adds to the loneliness of Joe and his state of mind, as does Farina's performance which a a gift to filmgoers and contains see of the hardest work and piercing truth I've ever seen from the guy. RIP.
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Dennis Farina in the role of his life
dragokin3 November 2014
I first saw Dennis Farina in the TV series Crime Story in the end of 1980s. And he stuck in my memory as a guy portraying sleazy cops and gangsters. In this sense The Last Rites of Joe May is not far away from that image.

There is one significant difference, however. Although we're still in the shady underworld of low-level criminals, his character glows with genuine repentance. For once in his lifetime, he's trying to make things right, but it seems to be harder than he expects.

There's also another TV darling from 1980s and 1990s in this one, namely Gary Cole. Overall this is a very good movie.
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Best Holiday Movie Ever
tjwprf23 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, "holiday movie" is twisted, but consider its theme: an entire wasted worthless life may be redeemed by a single selfless act. This ONLY works if one focuses solely on the brilliant performance by Dennis Farina who is fearless showing the "warts-and-all" side of his character, who teeters so close to "all," we are nearly as surprised as Joe May when ethos penetrates his ego. But the script succumbs to the failures of so many these days: the too-easy Totally Two-Dimensional Bad Guy, and System That Supports Bad Guy in Position of Authority Making Woman Total Victim of Man and System. The moral ambiguity of Joe's Final Act is not supposed to be an issue, according to the script, because the beneficiary of his Selfless Act will either die eventually at the hand of her tormentor, or she will lose her child if she invokes protection from the agencies that should protect her. We must assume one of two things to believe Joe's Final Selfless Act is justified: the "System" actually will never protect the hapless female, or Joe and the hapless female are not unreasonable in assuming this is the case.

I may be alone in the wilderness, but I believe it is time to stop painting pictures of a society that is so broken a perfect victim can find no protection but at the hands of an avenger. I rate this movie a 9 for performances and direction, and a 1 for its theme. Thus, my average rating of 5.
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Strong Acting----Grim Story
larrys321 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Dennis Farina gives a strong performance as a rather pathetic small time hustler, who after spending six weeks in the hospital, for pneumonia, finds out his apartment has been re-rented, his belongings tossed, and his car towed and auctioned off.

The woman(Jamie Anne Allman)who was given his apartment feels sorry for him and offers Farina a room for a weekly fee and Farina accepts. He soon finds out she has a terribly sadistic and abusive boyfriend, who's a Chicago cop.

Farina, who loves opera and raising pigeons on the roof, soon hits the streets trying to hustle up some merchandise to sell. Visiting old contacts, who regard him a "joke' his efforts only earn him more misery.

In failing health, he tries to reconcile with his son, to no avail.

As the abuse of Allman, for whom Farina had been slowing bonding with as well as her daughter, worsens you can see which way the film is heading, and it bleakly doesn't disappoint.

The acting, especially by Farina, but also by Allman and her abusive boyfriend (Ian Barford) is very solid but the depressing and grim nature of the film left me turned off and cold.
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An aging two bit loser gets one last shot to do right.
gargantuaboy21 May 2020
The first time we see Joe May he is being released from the hospital, we can see from the start this is not a healthy man. A bout of pneumonia kept him in the hospital for a seven week stay. Joe is played by Dennis Farina in what turned out to be one of his last roles and he completely nails the character. Joe May is a two bit hustler with not much going on.

When he is released from the hospital he goes back to his apartment and apparently it has been quite some time since he has been there because somebody else lives there now, A woman named Jenny played nicely by Jamie Anne Alman. Jenny is a nurse and has a young ten year old daughter. While Joe was in the hospital the landlord assumed he was dead so he simply got rid of Joe's belongings and rented the apartment to Jenny. Jenny feels bad for poor old Joe and actually lets him move in telling him she could use the help paying rent. Jenny also has an abusive boyfriend who is also a cop and from the get go, this cop does not like Joe.

We see Joe try and get things going to make a few bucks here and there and he goes back to see Lenny, a man he knew as a kid and made money with from time to time over the years selling stolen merchandise on the streets. Joe confronts him at a diner while Lenny is having breakfast with two other men, Joe tells him he would like to get back to work hopefully selling what he considers his specialty, radios and electronics. Lenny, played by Gary Cole, downplays the role which really makes the performance believable. Lenny is more interested in his pancakes and coffee than anything Joe is saying. When Joe asks him for work, the man can barely even make eye contact with Joe. He decides to give Joe a connection and he tells him to see a guy named Seymour.

Joe goes to see Seymour who runs a meatpacking company and hands Joe an enormous side of frozen lamb. How exactly Joe is supposed to sell this is never really explained however a very disgruntled Joe walks out and tries to sell the meat around town and getting zero takers. The sight of Joe lugging this huge side of meat around the streets is truly heartbreaking but funny at the same time. It's a great visual. It made me think of Ray Milland in "Lost Weekend" as he carries his typewriter all over town trying desperately to hawk it.

Joe also goes to see his son around Christmas time to reconnect with him but this goes nowhere and we really get the idea that Joe has no options left. The one thing Joe seems to enjoy is raising pigeons on the roof of the building he lives in with Jenny. Something about tough guys raising pigeons on rooftops has always worked in films. I thought of Brando in On the Waterfront or Stallone in The Lords of Flatbush. It works in this film too.

Joe also has a hand in taking care of Jenny's young daughter and the two of them build a nice relationship. When Jenny goes out of town with her abusive boyfriend she asks Joe to watch her daughter. The scenes with Joe and the daughter lead to some of the most moving moments in the film. Jenny comes back with bruises on her face and she knows she will never be able to get away from this man. Of course as in all movies with women in abusive relationships we wonder why this nice and attractive woman would even be with this jerk.

When Jenny is beaten again and has to be hospitalized she finally decides to move but knows that eventually this violent man will track her down. Joe decides to take matters into his own hands, I don't want to spoil the ending but let me just stay Joe accomplishes what he wanted to do. Feeling that he is nothing but an ailing two bit loser he has one last shot to leave the world a better place and do good and his actions get him more respect than anything he has ever done before. This is a little gem of a picture.
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