‘Joyride’ review: Olivia Colman takes a no-nonsense road trip

“Joyride” is the jalopy of a movie. Set in Ireland, this tale of a brand-new single mother and a 13-year-old precocious child who hit the road is so messy and unreal that it upsets his better intentions – there are many.

Olivia Colman plays Joy, ironically named Joy, a frantic, beleaguered small-town lawyer who travels through Kerry County to give her newborn daughter to her best friend Mags (Aisling O’Sullivan) before flying off on a Canary Islands vacation. . Trapped by a difficult childhood that included a monstrous mother and a prostitute father – and also battling postpartum depression – Joy feels inadequate to be a parent and can’t wait to step out of her motherhood duties.

That is, until the taxi Mags takes home is stolen by the dashing Mully (Charlie Reid), an underage and ridiculously talented driver on the run from his scheming father, James (Lochlann Ó Mearáin). Mully diverts a pile of charity money collected in memory of his late mother from his dangerous “father” (who has dubious plans for the money). But by chance, the taxi driver soon realizes that his backseat “passengers” are the drunken napping Joy and her swaddled baby, and the so-called ride begins. (Mully’s drunkard nickname for Joy is one of the few genuine chuckles in the movie.)

Stories like this one, as the deeply mismatched Joy and Mully slowly find ways to bond and help each other face their life’s dilemmas. One of those moments will involve Mully coaching Joy on how to breastfeed the reluctant baby she randomly named Robin, and it may not be on any viewer’s bingo card. It proves to be both an awkward and illogical episode (even for the unfortunately distraught Joy and the immensely resourceful Mully), but on balance, not much more than most of the action here.

The geographical and practical logic of Joy and Mully’s hasty, obstacle-ridden journey proves to be a low priority in Ailbhe Keogan’s hyper-imaginative scenario; You can drive any of the movie’s many highlights through plot holes. As a result, the film, solemnly directed by Emer Reynolds (2017’s award-winning documentary “The Farthest”), relies heavily on the potential appeal of its quirky characters, pastoral beauty, and Celtic genres to counteract their absurdity, extreme symbolism, and compelling parallels. . But it’s a heavy load.

It’s safe to say that if you have a Colman-quality actor on your hands, you can’t go completely wrong – and this one is no exception. He dives into Joy’s emotional whirlwind with less determination than he shows in such cutting-edge films as “Daddy”, “Missing Girl” (where “Joyride” overlaps somewhat thematically) and current “Empire of Light”. But ultimately, even the best actor has a lot to do with a curious, contradictory, and often repulsive character like Joy. Her hot potato attitude towards baby Robin arouses almost no sympathy, despite Joy’s long-standing emotional baggage (which can only partially justify her behavior in the real world).

This raises the question of whether Joy would have been a more trustworthy, empathetic soul had she been written significantly younger, before spending additional decades better solving her problems. Probably in her mid-40s, she feels like she has a much more complex and irreversible – and irresponsible – dysfunction at work, which is leading to her current unstable state. It also makes the orderly and fairly quick completion of things much less believable, far less convincingly finite.

And then there’s the movie’s biggest mystery: who is Robin’s father? Joy says she had no idea as she passed. But maybe it narrows it down for us? Just a thought, but whoever may have wanted to adopt the child. Riddle number two: Given all the unrepentant mayhem they’ve caused, let alone a police chase to nowhere, why isn’t the law more after Joy and Mully?

As the impulsive yet courageous Mully, Reid has charisma and pity; it’s an invention. It transforms what might have been unbearable into something warm, captivating and unforgettable. Still, her Mully is so extraordinarily talented for her young age that you expect her to deliver a baby rather than help her take care of one. Yes, we’re assuming that since her beloved mother’s death three years ago, the “man of the family” is Mully, not her father. But does this affect the facility of stealing cars and a very visible ice cream truck like a seasoned pro? Did I mention you’re also a master song stylist?

Only in movies.

“Game Enjoyment”

Not rated

Operation time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Play: It starts on December 23. Laemmle Glendale; Also available in VOD

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