Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Joyride – a distraught mum and young lad find themselves while getting lost in Kerry (cinemas from 29 July)

When Mully (Charlie Reid) spots his father (Lochlann O’Mearáin) stealing the money raised at a hospice charity fundraiser in the memory of his dead mum, the young lad grabs the roll of cash and legs it before hoping into the front seat of a taxi and racing up the road. He’s somewhat startled to discover a baby sitting in the back seat. Even more perturbed when he finds the mother Joy (Olivia Colman) drunkenly snoring behind the driver’s seat.

Both Mully and Joy are on the run, from their past, their families, and their circumstances … but mostly themselves. Over 90 minutes, Joyride tours around the back roads of County Kerry, as we discover that Mully is far more paternal than new mum Joy, and the unlikely pair come to terms with what they should do next.

The dialogue is superb – “you’re a dose!” – even if “mentalist” is repeated ad nauseum. The visual humour includes “deadly” vignettes of Irish rural life. An enormous baby’s head on the back of a tractor trailer is unexpected and very apt. The showband artist is a treat. The server in a fast-food truck has an engaging attitude.

Colman throws herself into the role as an emotional trainwreck. If this can be described as a coming of age film, it’s middle aged solicitor Joy who is doing the growing up. There’s a beautiful scene – though opinion at my screening varied with one previewer describing it as giving her the “ick” – when an absence of formula or expressed milk is combined with a crying baby and the moment Joy’s milk comes. Mully’s experience of being around another baby in his family circle means he’s a bit of an expert at how a baby will root and latch onto a nipple. Joy’s utter exhaustion leaves the young Mully acting as her midwife. Soon mother and baby are relieved. With the film’s release colliding with Breastival and World Breastfeeding Week, it’s a lovely moment.

Overall the film is well named: a lot of different vehicles are purloined. Screenwriter Ailbhe Keogan sets up the film’s finale with an extreme moral test for the two parents. However, Joyride isn’t serious drama. It’ll be released on VOD or network TV long before anyone at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is troubled by it. Joyride is up there with Waking Ned in terms of its reliance on hapless public officials, empty backroads and Oirish stereotypes. But director Emer Reynolds delivers laugh out loud moments and plenty of escapism. You’ll either love it or hate it, but I hope it’s the former.

You can find Joyride will be idling with the door open in the Queen’s Film Theatre from Friday 29 July–Thursday 4 August and also showing in Movie House, Omnipex and Odeon cinemas. 

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