Out Now On-Demand
A psychological thriller in which the lives of a Manhattan couple (Vera Famiga and Sam Rockwell) are torn apart by the unsettling antics of their mysterious, maybe evil son, Joshua.
He's nine years old, polite, primly attired and a prodigy at the piano. But he stars to worry his parents when he throws out all his childhood toys, disembowels his favourite stuffed animal, develops an interest in mummification, and pretends to grieve when the family dog mysteriously dies (as do the hamsters in his classroom).
Cinematography Award; Sundance Film Festival 2007
- George Ratliff('Hell House')
Rating: M Offensive Language & Content That May Offend
Son of two New York yuppies, preppy nine-year-old Joshua (a deadpan Jacob Kogan) sits alone on a park bench. A homeless man approaches and asks for money. Joshua, with a disgustingly straight face, says, “I’ll give you five bucks if you let me throw a rock at you”. That pretty well sums up the film’s tone. You don’t see him do it, which is also key to the unsettling effect – the most disturbing behaviour in the film is only implied.
Mom (Vera Farmiga) and Dad (Sam Rockwell) are modern, upper class New Yorkers. They’re a bit cynical and Mom’s prone to depression, but they’re a sweet unit - open minded and fun loving. Their son Joshua however, is a very serious little man. He’s a gifted piano player and light years ahead of the other kids. Living in a high rise apartment, the family is welcoming a new baby girl. She’s a crier, and the noise of her plus a wretched piano soundtrack permeate Joshua – which is unnerving but ultimately very effective.
Documentary director George Ratliff slowly turns the screws via tone, mood and the power of suggestion. Things start to happen. Such as dogs turning up dead, such as a highly memorable school piano recital where Joshua’s Twinkle Twinkle Little Star turns into an eccentric, disturbing, psychotic performance. Joshua is a rock, calm in the most hostile situation and in the face of Mom and Dad’s fraying temperaments. We start to view our sweet family unit anew as Ratliff’s lens becomes suspicious and cynical, and the evil we felt lurking comes to the fore.
I’ve said it before, sure I’ll say in the future, and will say it again now; Sam Rockwell ( Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, The Assassination of Jesse James) is an underrated and most excellent actor. Well cast here as a happy go lucky high flyer, Rockwell’s Dad is broken down by the growing skepticism and eventual hatred he harbours for his own son.
Vera Farmiga ( Down To The Bone, The Departed) is fearless. You get the feeling she isn’t concerned with whether you like her character, only that she registers as someone authentic and real. Her descent in Joshua rivals her psycho son in the disturbing stakes.
Affecting on a visceral level, this could be too unsettling for some but if you’re keen for an involving, anxiety riddled (and anxiety inducing) thriller; don’t look past it. While losing some go-forward with the odd story line contrivance, Joshua is otherwise a brave and unique thriller.
Aint' It Cool News [USA]
Los Angeles Times
Premiere Magazine [USA]
San Fransisco Chronicle
The Hollywood Reporter
The New York Times
Epitomises the word "creepy" - well worth the watch, but i felt let down by the end, the story stretches credibility.