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Craigslist Joe Review

By Geoffrey Morrison

No Average "Joe"

Joseph Garner had a mission: to survive for one month using nothing but Now I don't mean he wants to buy stuff to live on. I mean he has no money, nothing to barter. He wanted to see if he could survive pretty much entirely on the kindness of others, found through posts on a website.

It's a fascinating prospect. He starts the film mentioning a common lament that technology is driving us apart. I certainly don't believe it, but Garner sets out to prove it.

Starting in Los Angeles, Garner ends up hitching a ride to Seattle, then all the way to New York, down to New Orleans, back through Los Angeles (with a pass through Mexico), up to San Francisco, and take a breath, back down to LA. All in a month. 31 days with no money, credit cards. All he's got is his laptop, a cell phone, a passport.

Whether or not Joe can actually survive for a month rapidly becomes the least interesting part of the movie. Instead, this adventure becomes one about people. Dozens of men and women, whose lives we see in tiny slivers, all highlighted by their generosity. Could some of them be offering food and shelter merely because Joe (and his cameraman) are making a movie? Perhaps, but I don't buy that. Sure Joe was making a movie, but they could have been just two weird guys with an expensive camera.

If generosity is potentially affected in some Heisenbergian way by the camera, these people's personalities, stories, and character can't be faked. From town to town and story to story, you slide from amused, to amazed, awed, then heartbroken. Each becomes a central location to meet others, and learn their wonderful stories. With nothing more than Craigslist to tie these people together, it's is humbling and inspiring to see so many with so little, offer so much.

The founder of Craigslist, Craig Newmark, has said he feels most people are honest and good-natured. This movie certainly lends credence to that optimistic ideal. In so doing, it imparts a feeling of warmth about the potential greatness of humanity. That we're all in this mess together. And that's something far too easy to forget these days. Highly recommended.

What did you think?

Movie title Craigslist Joe
Release year 2012
MPAA Rating NR
Our rating
Summary What first appears to be a gimmick about living off Craiglist, turns out to be one of the most heartwarming and uplifting movies in ages.
View all articles by Geoffrey Morrison
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