The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Log in with Facebook
Forgot your password?
Don't have an account? Sign up here
and the Terms and Policies,
and to receive email from Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango.
Already have an account? Log in here
Please enter your email address and we will email you a new password.
No consensus yet.
No consensus yet.
View All The Last Rites of Joe May News
All Critics (19)
| Top Critics (11)
| Fresh (14)
| Rotten (5)
Joe Maggio is a sure-handed director with a good eye.
Farina is terrific, getting the pathos of the character while avoiding the self-pity, and leavening the tragedy with some occasional sputtering humor.
Veteran character actor Dennis Farina gives one of the best performances of the year in a rare lead part as an aging, down-on-his luck small-time hood in "The Last Rites of Joe May.''
With a few vital strokes - a long, chilly walk and a tired trudge up some stairs - Mr. Farina and Mr. Maggio bring you close...
Mr. Farina has never been more in control of his "instrument," as actors like to say, or more convincing.
The story gets close to its goal but winds up lost, leaving Farina holding the bag.
Watching Joe May feels like walking behind tourists on the Michigan Avenue bridge. Come onnnnnn.
A down-and-out small-time criminal tries desperately to get his act together.
Unfussy cinematography by Jay Silver captures the chill of a Chicago winter...
Maggio's film may be small, but it's full of texture.
Offers Farina the chance to demonstrate his range..a finely etched portrait of a man forced to put the best face on some hard choices - mostly to convince himself.
Despite some glaring dips into formulaic territory, The Last Rites of Joe May offers center stage to a great performer who's made a career of playing supporting tough guys.
While not really showing us anything we haven't seen before, writer/director Joe Maggio offers a solid script and a well rounded title character that Dennis Farina swallows whole like a plate of spaghetti.
Farina is so naturally perfect in this character, which shouldn't surprise as he's played mob types most of his career - but here, even when the script teeters into some truly well worn territory (like how Farina wasn't "there" for his son while said son was growing up), he still remains totally convincing.
The setup here is a good one; Farina gets pneumonia and is forced into an almost 2 month stay in the hospital. When released he discovers that his car has been towed, and in typical governmental fashion, have termed the car "abandoned" and therefore sold at auction. He also discovers that his landlord, figuring that Farina is dead, has tossed his possessions and rented his apartment to a single woman and her 7 year old daughter.
Situations force them all together and a bit of bonding ensues, but it is not in the tale itself, but in the character study of Joe May that gives this film an interest factor. A low level hood who survives by fencing stolen or illegal goods, Joe believes that he is a player; far more important than he actually is. His sense of place is made evident in scenes where he cow tows to a boss (wonderfully played by Gary Cole) and then steps outside the restaurant and refuses a gift from a "lowly" driver, like an officer refusing to step into the enlisted men's club.
From his mannerisms and actions we find out not only who Joe is, but who HE thinks he is, and it is his steadfast refusal to believe that his time has passed that makes him a tragic figure. The final resolution shows the measure of a man, and Maggio does a wonderful job of putting it all into perspective with the closing scene involving Cole.
A flawed man, to be sure, but a real one - and Farina gives this character a chance to breath.
Joe Maggio's expectedly bleak tale of an aging, world-weary hustler is striking in almost every aspect. Underrated actor Denis Farina is finally given a well-written character to work with, and the result is a touching, brilliantly understated performance that works as the film's main selling point. As well, Maggio's down-to-earth direction complements the film's grim tone, which is captured excellently through the use of dark lighting and gritty camerawork. "The Last Rites of May" isn't outstanding due to its being routinely-written and sluggishly-paced, but it's nevertheless an unquestionably well-made character study and the obvious high points of both Maggio's and Farina's careers.
View All Quotes
200 Essential Movies
Chosen by RT staff!
200 Freshest Movies
The best-reviewed since 1998
30 Great Scenes
30 great scenes in Rotten movies
Best of Netflix
Movies and shows to binge now
More News & Features