After an unexpected pregnancy, lawyer Joy (Olivia Colman) plans to give her child to her sister in nearby Kerry. Small problem, the taxi which was to take him there was hijacked by Mully (Charlie Reid), a teenager fleeing his father (Lochlann Ó Mearáin) and in possession of a considerable sum of money intended for charity. fund set up by his deceased mother…
If there’s one thing our national cinema is capable of producing with regularity, it’s road-trip comedies alongside bittersweet dramas. More recently, 2019’s “The Last Right” saw Niamh Algar and Michiel Huisman carrying a corpse around Ireland trying to transport it to Rathlin Island. Before that, you had 2013’s ‘Jump’, set in a post-Good Friday Agreement Belfast, which was edited by none other than Emer Reynolds – the director of ‘Joyride’, in his first fictional feature. Prior to this, Reynolds’ work included two of the best documentaries produced on this island – “Songs For While I’m Away”, which chronicles the life and career of Phil Lynott, and “Farthest‘, a moving documentary about NASA’s Voyager and the people who built it.
In “Joyride,” Reynolds uses his documentary and editing skills, moving the story forward as efficiently as possible and allowing dramatic moments to seep through when needed. Olivia Colman is, of course, uniquely talented in that she can slip into comedy and drama in the blink of an eye and do both better than any other actor of her stature. Charlie Reid, although a relative newcomer, is able to keep himself afloat when paired next to Colman as he is for most of the film. Here and there are little ripples of comedy and observational humor, but above all, “Joyride” is a story of people running away and coming back.
Indeed, what makes “Joyride” quite shocking in places is how quickly it switches between absolutely heartbreaking drama and airy, airy comedy in an instant. Plus, you get the feeling that “Joyride” is a movie and a story that could have turned down either of those alleys at any time and never returned. It’s to Reynolds’ credit that the film is able to weave its way between them and keep pushing things forward, but sometimes it can feel too much to master the tight turns.
Still, “Joyride” is an entertaining dramedy on the road, and Kerry looks stunning in the glorious sunshine. Olivia Colman once again demonstrates her mastery on screen, and Emer Reynolds’ efforts behind the camera will hopefully continue. While it can get tiresome in spots and isn’t always as cheerful as its name suggests, ‘Joyride’ is nonetheless a witty jaunt through the countryside in good company on board.