Joyride

**1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Joyride
"The director does achieve some quiet drama - a kiss on a cheek, an attempt at breast feeding - but elsewhere, it feels as though a committee was insisting on moments of 'quirky humour'." | Photo: Vertigo Releasing

The presence of the much-loved Olivia Colman is likely to be the main draw for this drive through the familiar twists and turns of an odd couple road trip, and she is well matched by a charming debut performance from her young co-star Charlie Reid despite the film's uneven tone and reliance on sentimentality. Reid - who has the screen presence of a young Will Poulter and could well be on the way to a career - plays Mully. He's a 12-year-old scally with a heart of gold who is trying to stop his dad (Lochlann O'MearĂ¡in) nicking the cash raised for a hospice in his dead mum's name.

When Mully, who it turns out is happy behind the wheel, leaps into the driver's seat of a taxi to outrun his dad, he discovers a drunk, Joy (Colman), sleeping it off in the back seat with her baby beside her. If that all seems a bit contrived, you ain't seen nothing yet, as Ailbhe Keogan's screenplay take the pair of them on higgledy-piggledy progress towards Joy's intended destination of dropping off the baby with a new mum. Colman gets stuck into the business of Joy but, ironically, given this is a film that considers the possibility of making 'bad choices', you can't help but feel the Oscar-winner has made one herself. She's took on problematic motherhood with all its nooks and crannies of nuance in last year's Lost Daughter but this, unfortunately, feels like a child's sketch by comparison, right down to the garish costuming, which seems to have been plucked from a sitcom.

Director Emer Reynolds gets great performances from her two leads and, thanks to sheer commitment, Colman and Reid manage to sell the basic idea of Mully being much better and equipped with kids than Joy is, thanks to his siblings. However, wider themes, including the problems with his ne'er-do-well dad are ticked off like points on a map rather than explored. The film as a bad fit for Reynolds as the wardrobe is on joy, with the director's documentary background is at odds with this mannered screenplay that continually forces its points.

The director does achieve some quiet drama - a kiss on a cheek, an attempt at breast feeding - but elsewhere, it feels as though a committee was insisting on moments of 'quirky humour'. The comedy, including the singing of the Home & Away theme tune to the penny whistle - I wish I was kidding about this - are crowbarred in despite having no relevance to the plot. The film also has a sentimental streak as wide and deep as the Shannon, with flashbacks, already tending towards a wallow, added to be slow motion. Also, if I were to ask you to pick the 'most sentimental bird in Britain and Ireland', I'm quietly confident the robin would be at least near the top of the list and, sure enough, it pops up as a repeated and unecessary motif.

Reviewed on: 29 Jul 2022
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A woman planning to give up her baby finds herself on an oddball roadtrip with a 12-year-old.

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