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Olivia Colman shines once again in documentary filmmaker Emer Reynolds’ playful Irish road movie.
Joy (Colman) appears to be in the throes of a post-partum crisis. With her newly-born in tow she decides to get a cab to her best friend, where she will hand over the baby, before flying off to Lanzarote – her preferred escape destination. 12-year-old Mully (Charlie Reid) has just lost his mum. A natural entertainer, he gives a performance at a local pub to raise money for charity, but realising his errant father will likely squander away the proceeds, he runs off with the cash, hijacking the driver-free cab that Joy has just stepped into. Unable to remove his passenger, Mully decides to set off with Joy and her baby, with his father in hot pursuit.
This set-up is achieved with dizzying speed, after which Reynolds changes gear, offering up a calmer character study of Joy and Charlie, with frequently surprising results. Reid holds his own here, no mean feat against the ever-dependable Oscar-winner Colman. But his combination of impish charm and barely concealed pain at his loss makes him immensely likeable. In another actor’s hands Joy may not have been quite so credible, but Colman has a gift of humanising her characters in a way that never fails to draw audiences in. Reynolds, who made the beautiful, moving The Farthest, gives the actors space to develop their characters’ relationship, all the while playing with our preconceptions about the Irish landscape. The result is a charmer of a film.