More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Worth A Look34.78%
Average: 26.09%
Pretty Bad: 4.35%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 5 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Tehran Taboo by Rob Gonsalves

Final Portrait by Rob Gonsalves

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story by Jay Seaver

Before We Vanish by Jay Seaver

Dear Dictator by Peter Sobczynski

Tomb Raider (2018) by Peter Sobczynski

Darken by Jay Seaver

Early Man by Jay Seaver

Beyond Skyline by Jay Seaver

Agent Mr. Chan by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Joe Gould's Secret
[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"The secret: Bruce Willis is dead!"
4 stars

We're well into "Joe Gould's Secret" before we realize: Oh, yeah, there's supposed to be a secret in this movie, isn't there? The characters are so engrossing that, despite the languid pace, we're never left wanting for more.

Stanley Tucci directed the film, which is based on a true story, and stars as Joe Mitchell, a writer for the New Yorker in the 1940s. Mitchell is genteel and soft-spoken, a true Southern gentleman, who writes human-interest pieces about the city's many interesting characters.

Right up his alley is Joe Gould (Ian Holm), a man both well-educated and erudite (someone "took up a cudgel in my defense at a soiree," he says) who is homeless, apparently by choice. He's also a bit daft. None of this distinguishes him from a lot of New York, of course; what catches Mitchell's eye is that Gould is writing an "oral history" of Manhattan -- millions of words of overheard conversations and observations which he has jotted down in dozens of composition books.

Mitchell becomes Gould's "biographer," as he calls him, following him around for several days as Gould hits up friends for "contributions to the Joe Gould Fund," and locating the composition books that he has left with several different people all over the city.

When the story is over and published in the New Yorker, that's the end of Mitchell's concern. Gould, however, has latched onto him and won't let go. The non-confrontational Mitchell is too polite to give him the big brush-off.

A counterman at a diner sums it up well early on: "Truth be told, we're all freaks," he says. "We're all freaks together." In other words, don't be too surprised by Joe Gould's outbursts, frank manner and occasionally embarrassing public behavior, because he's probably not too different from me or you.

Joe Mitchell discovers this, slowly. Despite the many contrasts between the Joes -- mild-mannered and outrageous, affluent and poor, shy and extroverted -- Mitchell sees quite a bit of himself in Gould.

Holm and Tucci turn in outstanding performances. They are surrounded by supporting characters -- Hope Davis as Mitchell's wife, for example -- but it's their movie all the way. A character-driven drama such as this lives or dies by its lead actors, and both men give sympathetic, loving portrayals.

There is a secret in "Joe Gould's Secret," but don't waste time wondering about it. It's not exactly earth-shattering, nor is it unexpected. Like much of the movie, it's sublime and understated, and pleasant to behold.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/04/03 18:21:31
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

2/13/04 viewer B intelligent and touching 5 stars
1/12/02 peter ruggle a touching portrait of a failure whose charade frees him and us to see the human tragedy. 4 stars
3/20/01 Tom The human/social animal conflicted. Self realization in a society that demands less. 4 stars
1/09/01 Monday Morning I only watched about 30 minutes, but to that point it was deadly boring. 2 stars
4/13/00 Louis I am making this the number one movie of the week 5 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  07-Apr-2000 (R)



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast