Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 34 minutes, Director – Emer Reynolds
After running away from his dad (Lochlann O’Mearáin), 12-year-old Mully (Charlie Reid) finds himself on the run in a stolen taxi, not just with a wedge of cash but also new mother Joy (Olivia Colman) and her baby, who she plans on taking to a friend to care for.
Within the first five minutes of writer Ailbhe Keoghan and director Emer Reynolds’ Joyride we see 12-year-old Mully (Emer Reynolds) steal a large sum of charity money from his father, steal a taxi – which he seems to be able to drive perfectly – and engage in a confrontation with the still-half-asleep woman in the back of it. Yet, perhaps the most surprising thing that happens before any of this is the fact that he confidently performs a rendition of Minnie The Moocher in front of a pub full of people. It’s at an event to raise money for a charity which heled his mother as she was battling cancer. However, Mully’s dad (Lochlann O’Mearáin) intends on keeping the donations for himself, it’s hinted that he owes money to other people – plans which go out the window as soon as his son snatches the wad of cash out of his hand outside the pub.
Initially Mully’s aims are to travel to his aunt’s house, however as the woman he has kidnapped, who we soon learn to be called Joy (Olivia Colman), takes over the wheel with her own determination the route changes to her friend’s home, a fair few more miles away, where she intends to drop off her newborn baby, also in tow, somewhere where she will be cared for and properly looked after. Then, it’s off to Lanzarote. Wherever they end up going there’s certainly plenty for the polar-opposite pair of very sweary – the film certainly earns its 15 rating for the frequent dropping the f-bomb alone, although it does die down as things go on – figures to bicker about along the long country backroads of Ireland. There’s an enjoyable nature to the duo who manage to pull off an authentic feel to the bond that begins to grow between them. These are two central performances which largely helps to carry the film and bring you in.
Humour is what fuels the first half of the piece. Yes, there may be some familiar jokes but they’re pulled off well enough by Colman and Reid who both deliver fine performances – it feels odd, and perhaps obvious, to say, but Reid himself genuinely feels as if he is playing a 12-year-old. You believe that this is a child conversing with Colman’s new-mother, even amongst the confidence and experience that he displays, after having largely looked after his own niece growing up. It perhaps adds to the chuckles along the way and your general connection to the film.
Of course, there are dashes of seriousness and drama here and there, and for the most part they’re dealt with rather well. It’s when they become to central focus in the second half where you have to properly resettle into things. Not as they begin, but once you realise that this is not the prominent tone which the film is going for and that the more comedic leanings have been put aside for now. Then, once your settled in to this new tone things begin to alternate within the closing stages and form a tonally conflicting finale; again, the performances manage to hold the film up. There are certainly quieter moments dropped in here and there which manage to blend in well – there’s a really lovely set of scenes involving a brief appearance from Tommy Tiernan – but as the tone almost solely becomes dramatic things begin to slightly slip off the road.
Luckily, at only 94 minutes long; and filling that run-time fairly well, there’s a largely enjoyable, and fairly breezy, nature to Joyride – at least when it comes to the more comedic elements and conversations between the finely-performed central pairing as they travel across the Irish country. The drama may sometimes cause some disruption and clash as it alternates with the more familiar elements of comedy, or begins to dominate as the overall tone and focus, but there’s still decent enough viewing to be had. Largely thanks to the performances which lead the piece which keep you engaged and interested in the way things are going to pan out for the characters – after one particular moment early on, perhaps unconsciously, leads you to think a tense convention may be ticked before going the other way. It may have its conflictions, like the two main characters, but generally Joyride manages to come together to create an enjoyable piece of viewing.
While the drama and comedy may conflict when alternating, or overtaking as the predominant tone, there’s a generally enjoyable nature to Joyride thanks to the two engaging central performances from Reid and Colman.