The Last Rites of Joe May (2011) stars Dennis Farina as a petty criminal (short money hustler) who spends seven weeks in hospital with pneumonia only to find that when he returns to his old life, it’s gone. His landlord assumed he was dead, threw out all of his belongings, and rented his apartment to a young woman and her seven-year-old daughter. His car, after being plastered with numerous parking tickets, was impounded by the city, then sold; the cost to redeem it would have been far greater than its value. He has little more than $400 in the bank, somebody stole his homing pigeons, and all his friends—like his landlord—thought he was dead.
Estranged from his son, homeless, with no prospects, Joe is taken in by Jenny (Jamie Anne Allman), the woman who rented his apartment, and her daughter Angelina (Meredith Droeger). Besides his collection of opera records that Jenny found in a closet when she moved in, and an old photograph, Joe’s life is empty and spiraling downward. As Joe becomes more involved with Jenny and Angelina, his one great moment turns out to be unlike anything he hoped.
The Last Rites of Joe May is beautifully acted, sensitively written and directed by Joe Maggio, and painfully realistic. There is little happiness in this downbeat tale, and many viewers will wonder if Joe deserves to be happy, but will sympathize with him just the same.
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