THE LAST RITES OF JOE MAY chronicles the last days in the life of Joe May, an aging, short money hustler who always believed that a glorious destiny awaited him around every corner. Now in his sixties, his health failing and resources dwindling, Joe is presented with one last shot at greatness…(Imdb)
Dennis Farina gives a tour de force performance in this homage to early-1970s “tough guy” films. Sixtysomething Chicagoan Joe May—a short-money hustler of Rolex knockoffs and bootleg DVDs—returns home from a hospital stay to find out that his apartment has been rented to single mother Jenny (Jamie Anne Allman) and her young daughter Angelina (Meredith Droeger) because everyone thought he was dead. Begrudgingly, Joe accepts Jenny’s offer to share the apartment. Joe plots his comeback scheme, but instead a domino effect occurs with everything going against him.
Writer/director Joe Maggio, as with his New York-set Milk & Honey (TFF ’03), skillfully utilizes the urban setting as a character. The gentrifying area around Joe May isolates him more as his life spirals downward with only one last glimmer of greatness in sight. Maggio gives Farina a role to immerse himself in: Joe May has the right amount of tough desperation but just enough charm to make you root for him even when he is chasing a lost dream. The other actors in the talented ensemble (the film was made in association with the Steppenwolf Theater Co.) shine, especially Allman and young newcomer Droeger, who hold their own in weighty scenes with Farina. —Tribeca Film Festival