Olivia Colman and Charlie Reid in JOYRIDE, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

When I first watched the trailer for Joyride I was very excited. The last Irish film that I watched was Lost & Found, a film that I greatly enjoyed. On top of that, the film looked really good. Ultimately, the film was good, but it doesn’t quite cross over into the realm of really good or great. Let’s talk about the concept of the film, where I think they went, and where they could have gone.

Set and filmed in the wilds of gorgeous Co. Kerry, on the southwest coast of Ireland – “where the buffeting winds might catch the heart off guard and blow it open” (Seamus Heaney) – JOYRIDE is a huge-hearted, wickedly funny and emotional story about hope; a story of how we can heal the wounds of our past with love, spirit and courage. The film, at its heart, is a meditation on friendship and the miracle of forgiveness. Or if forgiveness is not possible, then at least acceptance. It tells a powerful story of healing and of motherhood. Having lost my mother when I was just four and having remained childless as an adult, I felt compelled, challenged, privileged and intrigued to undertake this journey of exploration. Into the heart of what it means to be, to have, to lose, a mother. We look at motherhood in all its beauty and challenges. The film hopes to talk of friendship, of trust, and ultimately, of the interconnectivity of all our lives, and asks us to reimagine the idea of family.

Emer Reynolds, director

I love where Reynolds wanted the film to go. From the trailer, this is where I thought the film would go. The film is heartwarming and touching. It gives us two compete opposites and we get to watch as their worlds collide. Mully (Charlie Reid), a 12 year old who has lost his mother and has a deadbeat father, steals a taxi and finds Joy (Olivia Colman), a new mother set on giving her child away, in the backseat. They’re both running away from problems, but at the same time they’re both desperately looking for help. What results is a completely acceptable drama that would fit in on any Hallmark or Lifetime channel. What we don’t get is the humour. Perhaps it is lost in translation… there were definitely some Irish (Gaelic?) words and phrases that I didn’t know used a couple of times and I did feel like I was missing out. I actually tried to google a few of them, but I didn’t get results.

This was my biggest problem… the trailer made it look like it would be a sweet, heartwarming story with a ton of laughs. Instead, it was two unlikeable, broken people seeking redemption without knowing they needed redemption. Even when they find it, it doesn’t quite feel as heartwarming as it could be… it feels a little forced. So those are the two things that I would change… I’d introduce real humour to the film (because something that brings a tear to your eye needs some hearty laughter in order to stay in the heartwarming category) and I’d clean up the ending. Additionally, the film could do with a bit of a pacing fix… at times it was slower than molasses and it was difficult to stay interested, but this was a minor problem… most of the time the pacing was decent enough to keep the viewer following along.

At the end of the day, it’s a sweet film that looks at how we all have the power to change and overcome. We have the power to make a difference in another person’s life, even if it isn’t the type of person we expect to change. That’s what I liked about the film… that’s why I still think it was a good film after the lack of humour and clunky conclusion. It is a message that we all need, especially around the holiday season and it is a film that families could sit down and watch together just as easily as a couple could curl up sharing a blanket, or, as I did, anybody could throw on headphones and look at their computer screen for 94 minutes.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to see what happens when a 12 year old missing his mother and a woman with a newborn who wants to be anything but a mother end up together on a cross country road trip to redemption and fulfillment, then check out Joyride. Just know that any laughs in the trailer are the only laughs that you’ll get.. but you will get a sweet, heartening film with a couple of people that you’ll hate until you don’t… then you’ll love them and find joy in the ride they brought you on.

Joyride will be released in theaters and on demand on December 23.

  • Overall
  • Cerebral Cinema