Mark Wahlberg plays the title role in his new film, Joe Bell based on the true story of a man who travelled across the US after the death of his teenage son, Jadin, who was severely bullied for being gay. Bell walked from La Grande, Oregon to New York City where Jadin had dreamed of moving after high school.
The film, initially titled Good Joe Bell, was released at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2020. It was met with critical acclaim and is scheduled for a theatrical release in Australia in October.
Wahlberg has been promoting the movie on his social media accounts and receiving a flood of supportive messages from people who identify with the film’s narrative.
According to Rolling Stone, the real Joe Bell had written on Facebook, “I miss my son Jadin with all my heart and soul. I know you’re with me on this walk.” The film takes this concept literally and features the ghost of Jadin Bell following alongside Joe as he embarks on his journey.
Along the way, Bell delivered seminars and speeches to audiences about the detrimental effects of bullying and the need for acceptance and tolerance. The film takes a dive into the complexity of losing a child to bullying in a world that is ostensibly more accepting and progressive. Reportedly, Wahlberg’s role was handled with sincerity and care and the performance by Reid Miller (as Jadin) was a poignant accompaniment to the raw emotions this film portrays.
The trailer for the film promises to navigate the nuanced relationship Joe had with Jadin while he was alive, and the even more complicated relationship he creates with the memory of his son after he dies. According to Rolling Stone, though this film does centre on an LGBTQIA+ narrative, it also discusses haunting, regret, the true impossibility of redemption from the dead and the process of healing.