Joe & The Shawl Image

Joe & The Shawl

By Brian Shaer | May 23, 2020

The dynamic that develops between the two and Joe’s utter bewilderment and naïveté about Kelli’s belief system is what interests writer-director Ballivian. Joe insists that a person’s faith or race is of no concern to him when he does business, only money matters. However, it is clear that the previously casual back-and-forth between two affable acquaintances has now seemingly given way to an awkward conversation between two strangers.

Obviously, Kelli has encountered this sort of thing from others in the past and just wants to get it over with as painlessly as possible. She rolls her eyes as if to say, “OK, here we go.” She is patient with Joe and even tries to steer the conversation back to friendly banter, but Joe is hung up on the religiosity of Kelli’s background. “You were a Christian before this?” Joe asks, incredulous that Kelli had abandoned her Christian-born faith.

“…more interested in exploring the implications of her intriguing story than with showing off…”

Joe & The Shawl asks: when an unassuming countenance challenges one’s long-established ideology, does genuine human curiosity or steadfast doctrine emerge more prominently in evaluating such circumstances? In this day and age, do people inherently judge a book by its cover or give others with differing points of view the benefit of the doubt?

Galbraith and Cox are ideally suited to their roles and realize their characters with skill and ease. Ballivian’s direction is efficient and appropriate to the material, without being too flashy. She is, thankfully, more interested in exploring the implications of her intriguing story than with showing off via visual trickery.

A primary function of any film, short or feature-length, is to present a hypothetical to an audience and, hopefully, allow them to discover something about themselves. The general scenario of Joe & The Shawl is one that many people have perhaps found themselves confronting at one time or another. The film dares us to imagine how the episode might personally play out, whether we want to face that reality or not. I can’t think of a more timely and contemporaneous proposition.

Joe & The Shawl (2020)

Directed and Written: Nicole Ballivian

Starring: Jill Galbraith, Travis Lincoln Cox, Whitney Morgan, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Joe & The Shawl Image

"…Joe Potay is about to find out just how deceiving looks can be."

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