The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Cinema] - JOYRIDE | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Cinema] - JOYRIDE

joyride review
A young car thief and a reluctant mother find themselves on the run.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Emer Reynolds

Starring: Olivia Colman, Charlie Reid, Lochlann Ó Mearáin, Olwen Fouéré

joyride poster

Few storytelling formats are as attractive to filmmakers as the road movie. With characters travelling on literal and metaphorical journeys, it provides the ideal setup for character development. The trouble with road movies is that very few of the world's nations are large enough to accommodate them. Ireland, the setting for director Emer Reynolds' Joyride, is so small that it can be traversed by car in the time it takes to consume the average superhero movie. While the country that provides its backdrop may not be very broad, the humour in Joyride certainly is. Every aspect of Reynolds' increasingly grating comedy drama is pitched higher than the wails of the screaming infant at its centre.

joyride review

If a movie is titled Joyride and its protagonist is named Joy (Olivia Colman – how??? why???), you know you're not in for much in the way of nuance. Having prematurely given birth to a baby girl just a week ago, Joy intends dropping the infant off with her sister. Joy isn't the maternal type, or is she? Maybe she just needs a male figure to mansplain how motherhood is the essence of womanhood.

That male figure arrives in the diminutive form of 13-year-old scallywag Mully (Charlie Reid). Having recently lost his mother to cancer, Mully takes off in a stolen taxi with the money raised by a local pub for a charity battling the disease. He means well, however, as he's planning to give the money to the charity rather than see it fall into the hands of his ne'er do well father (Lochlann Ó Mearáin). Mully is shocked to find he has two passengers in Joy and her unwanted newborn.

joyride review

It's at this early point that Joyride begins to test your patience. Rather than immediately extracting herself from the situation, Joy is perfectly happy to allow a 13-year-old boy to drive her to the ferry terminal. At first it seems as though Joy may be mentally unstable, perhaps suffering from post-partum depression, but she appears to be fully in control of her faculties.

As Joy and Mully travel the backroads of County Kerry, this odd couple begins to bond, with the former learning how to be a mother courtesy of the latter, who seems to know more about the workings of infants than the average pediatrician. At one point he even teaches her how to breastfeed!!! In the current social climate, the idea that a movie written and directed by women would proffer the considerably outdated idea that a woman's primary purpose in life is to become a mother is baffling. That a pre-pubescent boy teaches an adult woman how to become a maternal figure is the icing on this sickeningly saccharine cake. With its amateurish feel and lecturing tone, Joyride often resembles an Irish version of one of those Christian propaganda movies so popular in the US, and fans of such movies will no doubt appreciate its pro-life message.

joyride review

I'm not sure how Colman was roped into this ghastly affair, but even her talents can't save the film. We're told Joy is a solicitor, but she speaks like a council estate stereotype, all fecks and bejaysuses. Reid is clearly very talented, but it's impossible to buy him as a working class scoundrel – he gives the sort of overly polished performance that suggests he came off the production line at the Irish wing of the Disney factory. It doesn't help that he's burdened with dialogue no 13-year-old Irish boy would ever come out with, and it often sounds like he's speaking certain words for the first time in his young life.

Road movies are usually memorable for the various eccentric characters their protagonists meet on their journey, often teaching our heroes a life lesson or two. Here the life lessons are literally taught, with characters sitting down beside our lead duo and dispensing tired wisdom. By the third time a Robin Redbreast appears as a metaphor, you'll be throwing rotten fruit at the screen. In the year that gave us the transformative The Quiet Girl, Joyride is an unwelcome return to the dark days when Irish movies were made not for Irish audiences but for tourists with misty-eyed misconceptions about the Emerald Isle. Stop the car, I want to get out.

 is in UK/ROI cinemas from July 29th.

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