Nicolas Cage has been in a number of very good movies, but his fondest fans tend to like him for the bad ones instead. From Con Air to Ghost Rider, Vampire’s Kiss to The Wicker Man – there’s no one who makes a bad movie fun quite like Cage does. He’s just got a special kind of energy.

Given that his true talents lie in tripling the entertainment value of any bad movie, it’s somewhat jarring to see Cage (who, left we forget, has an Oscar) playing it straight in what looks like a genuinely decent film. Such is the case with the first trailer for Joe, the new drama from director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express).

Set in a small town in Texas, Joe was scripted by Gary Hawkins and based on the novel of the same name by Larry Brown. Cage plays Joe Ransom, an ex-con who is trying to keep his head down as the manager of a crew of laborers in a logging company. He is approached by a newcomer to the town, Gary (Tye Sheridan), who asks him for a job. Before long, Joe finds himself drawn into Gary’s life, and struggles to resist intervening.

Based on the trailer, it looks like Joe handles some pretty dark subject matter, with Gary’s abuse by his father at the forefront of it. Green is best known for comedies like Pineapple Express and Your Highness, but originally made a name for himself directing stark dramas, in particular his profoundly moving directorial debut, George Washington.

Joe has been positively received by critics during its film festival run and collected two awards at the Venice Film Festival last year. Some reviewers have compared the coming-of-age story arc to Jeff Nichols’ drama Mud. Based on the content, it looks like Joe probably isn’t going to be light-hearted viewing, but it does look like a drama with a fair bit of soul – not to mention a very beefy Cage.

Joe is set for release on April 11, 2014.