Life & Culture

Joyride film review: A small but perfectly formed drama comedy about a mum on the run

Olivia Colman stars in a story that is full of heart that could have easily relied on cheap laughs


Joyride. Pictured: Olivia Colman as Joy and Charlie Reid as Mully. Vertigo Releasing.

Cert: 15 | ★★★✩✩

Olivia Colman plays a woman on the run from her life and responsibilities in this small but perfectly-formed drama comedy from Irish documentarian Emer Reynolds.

Written by Ailbhe Keogan, Joyride also stars newcomer Charlie Reid, prolific Irish TV star Lochlann O’Mearáin (Outlander) and Franco-Irish actor Olwen Fouéré. The film had its world premiere earlier this month at the Galway Film Fleadh.

Fleeing from his father, 12-year-old Mully (Reid) steals a taxi and is shocked to find a woman (Colman) with her new-born baby in the back seat of the car.

The woman in question is Joy — “I know, false advertising,” she tells her new companion when asked for her name — a taciturn and deeply- troubled new mother who has decided to give her child away to a family member.

Meanwhile, Mully needs to escape his abusive, debt-ridden father. The two strike up a dysfunctional friendship, with the young boy begging Joy not to give her baby up.

Finally apprehended by the boy’s father, they decide to call a truce to allow Joy to rest at a plush B&B and feed the child. As old, forgotten memories resurface, it becomes clearer why Joy was so hellbent on giving her child the best start in life, even if that life is without her.

Meanwhile, Mully must once again escape the grips of the father who has only ever used him to facilitate his own schemes.

While not likely to earn Colman anything like her most recent accolades and prizes, Joyride remains a charming, well-acted and altogether rather interesting little production.

Mixing poignancy with slapstick comedy throughout, this is a buddy movie that feels at times a little bit too rushed, but in the end it is the brilliantly inspired dynamic between Reid and Colman that elevates this story from an easily forgotten production to something much more robust.

Overall, Reynolds and Ailbhe have delivered a story that is full of heart when they could just as easily have relied on cheap laughs. They have given us a disarmingly imperfect but genuinely heartening story about intricate family ties, with characters who one can’t help but root for.

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