My Name is Joe should be remembered for a few things. It’s touching story. The stalwart direction of Ken Loach. The cold, dark, and straight-forward visual palette befitting its blue collar central character. Most of all, though, it should be remembered for Peter Mullan’s tragic turn as the titular Joe.
Mullan embodies Joe and all of his contradictory traits from the get go. The film begins with an AA meeting where Joe is recounting his story to the group. He starts by discussing his initial feelings of denial regarding his condition, and as an audience we’re not sure where we are just yet. As he comes around to reality, so do we. He pushes past his denial into admission without much of a reason for the transition, and we realize he’s in a meeting talking to people just like him.