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Walkaway Joe

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A kid with trouble for a father and a father whose son wants nothing to do with him fill the gaps in each other’s lives in this tough but tender road picture. “Always know where the cue ball will wind up after the shot,” says pool hustler Cal (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to his fast-learning teenage son Dallas (Julian Feder). It’s a piece of advice first-time director Tom Wright follows almost to the letter. When Cal disappears, Dallas packs his cue and a pocket full of past winnings and, hops a ride with Joe (David Strathairn), an honorable man traveling cross-country to ostensibly crash his estranged son’s wedding. Strathairn is one of the most trusted actors in Hollywood — who else could have played Edward R. Murrow? Many an actor would have buckled when Cal asked what a man his age is doing in the company of a 14-year-old boy, but Strathairn’s response clearly and cleanly sets things straight. Filmy green screen effects at times detract from powerful dialogue exchanges, and one burning question remains unanswered: if both his ex and his son hated him, how did Joe score a printed invite to his boy’s wedding? But overall, this sturdy genre picture is well worth a look. (2020) — Scott Marks

Rated NR | 1 hour, 29 minutes
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