True-life dramas typically tend to bring out the best in Mark Wahlberg, with the actor delivering several of his finest performances playing real figures like The Fighter‘s Micky Ward, Lone Survivor‘s Marcus Luttrell, Deepwater Horizon‘s Mike Williams or Patriots Day‘s Tommy Saunders, the latter of whom was based on Sergeant Detective Danny Keeler.
After the tedious snoozefest of Paramout+ blockbuster Infinite saw him default to action hero territory, Wahlberg is diving back into serious fare with the upcoming Joe Bell. The 50 year-old plays the title character, who embarks on a one-man journey across America on foot to raise awareness about gay victimization after his 15 year-old son commits suicide due to the intense bullying he faced online and at school following his coming out.
It’s a powerful story, and those familiar with the Bell family will know that there’s not a happy ending, but the dramatization has faced mixed reviews since premiering at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, holding a middling 53% score on Rotten Tomatoes. The performances of the cast have been widely praised, with young Reid Miller’s turn being singled out for widespread acclaim, but it’s also come in for criticism after devolving into formula, despite how powerful the events behind the movie are.
Production on the film wrapped over two years ago, but it found itself shelved as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Solstice Studios paid a hefty $20 million for the distribution rights before ultimately selling them off just eight months later, and after all of the uncertainty Joe Bell is now heading exclusively to theaters on July 23rd, where it’ll no doubt pull on the heart strings of audiences everywhere.