“Joyride” is a jalopy of a movie. This Irish-set story of a brand-new single mom and a precocious 13-year-old boy who find yourself on the street collectively is so scattershot and far-fetched it overwhelms its higher intentions — of which there are lots of.
Olivia Colman stars because the satirically named Pleasure, a frantic, beleaguered small-town lawyer touring throughout County Kerry to provide over her new child daughter to her greatest buddy, Mags (Aisling O’Sullivan), earlier than jetting off to a Canary Islands vacay. Haunted by a tough childhood that included a beastly mum and a philandering dad — and in addition scuffling with postpartum melancholy — Pleasure feels ill-equipped to be a mother or father herself and might’t wait to exit from her maternal duties.
That’s, till the taxi she’s taking to Mags’ home is stolen by the brash Mully (Charlie Reid), an underage — and ridiculously competent — driver fleeing from his scheming father, James (Lochlann Ó Mearáin). Mully has swiped a pile of charity money, raised in his late mom’s reminiscence, away from his dodgy “da” (who has doubtful plans for the dough). However the unintentional cabbie quickly realizes his backseat “passengers” are the drunk-dozing Pleasure and her swaddled toddler — and the titular joyride begins. (Mully’s boozy nickname for Pleasure offers one of many film’s few actual chuckles.)
Tales like this being what they’re, the deeply mismatched Pleasure and Mully slowly discover methods to bond and assist one another come to phrases with their life predicaments. That certainly one of these moments will embody Mully teaching Pleasure on methods to breastfeed the reluctant child she’s randomly named Robin, is probably not on any viewer’s bingo card. It proves each a clumsy and implausible episode (even for the haplessly distraught Pleasure and uber-resourceful Mully), however, on steadiness, no extra so than a lot of the motion right here.
The geographical and sensible logic of Pleasure and Mully’s hasty, obstacle-filled journey proves a low precedence within the overly fanciful script by Ailbhe Keogan; you could possibly drive any of the film’s many featured autos via its string of plot holes. Consequently, the movie, earnestly directed by Emer Reynolds (2017’s award-winning documentary “The Farthest”), depends largely on the potential enchantment of its quirky characters, bucolic loveliness and Celtic strains to counter its absurdities, extreme symbolism and compelled parallels. However that’s a heavy carry.
It’s secure to say you’ll be able to’t go fully fallacious when you have an actor of Colman’s caliber available — and that is no exception. She dives into Pleasure’s emotional whirlwind with no much less dedication than she has proven in such superior movies as “The Father,” “The Lost Daughter” (with which “Joyride” shares a slight thematic overlap) and the present “Empire of Light.” However there’s in the end solely a lot even the perfect performer can do with a personality as curious, contradictory, usually off-putting as Pleasure. Her hot-potato perspective towards child Robin hardly evokes sympathy, regardless of Pleasure’s longstanding emotional baggage (which, in the true world, would possibly solely partially justify her habits).
That raises the query of whether or not Pleasure wouldn’t have been a extra credible, empathetic soul had she been written as considerably youthful, earlier than she’d had these added many years to raised work out her points? By the point she is in what’s presumably her mid-to-late 40s, it feels as if there’s way more difficult and irrevocable — and irresponsibly unmanaged — dysfunction at work that has led to her current unhinged state. It additionally makes the tidy, slightly speedy method issues wrap up rather a lot much less plausible, a lot much less believably finite.
After which there’s the movie’s greatest thriller: Who’s Robin’s father? Pleasure says, in passing, that she has no concept. However possibly slim it down for us? Only a thought, however whoever he’s might need wished to undertake the kid. Second riddle: Other than a go-nowhere police chase, why isn’t the legislation extra on Pleasure and Mully’s tails, given all of the unapologetic mayhem they’re inflicting?
Because the impulsive however big-hearted Mully, Reid has charisma and pathos to spare; he’s a discover. He makes what may have been an unbearable half into one thing heat, fascinating and memorable. Nonetheless, his Mully is so preternaturally succesful for his younger age, you half anticipate him to ship a child slightly than simply assist have a tendency to 1. Sure, we’re to imagine that Mully, not his dad, has been the “man of the family” since his saintly mum’s dying three years earlier than. However does that have an effect on his facility to steal vehicles — and one very seen ice cream truck — like a seasoned professional? Did I point out he’s a deft tune stylist as properly?
Solely within the motion pictures.
Working time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Enjoying: Begins Dec. 23. Laemmle Glendale; additionally accessible on VOD