Joyride — a quintessential Film Fleadh movie

Finally the Galway Film Fleadh is back in all its glory. After an online only event in 2020 and a hybrid event in 2021 that was mostly online with a few outdoor screenings it was back to being in person in the Town Hall on Tuesday. It was so good to be back.

The opening film this year was Joyride. A feature film debut from Irish director Emer Reynolds. It really felt to me like a quintessential Galway Film Fleadh movie, Irish, heartfelt, hilarious and great to look at. A brilliant pick to open the festival and the was a huge hit with the sold out crowd.

Shot in Kerry last year in only five weeks, with plenty of outdoor shoot days, it's genuinely a remarkable feat to have made such a good looking movie during the pandemic.

It stars Olivia Coleman. I was having a chat with a friend recently after watching a recent film of hers, The Lost Daughter. He made the point that with Daniel Day Lewis retired, is Olivia Coleman the best working actor in the world at the moment? I think for me, probably yes.

So what a coup for this Irish move to have her as the lead in this great little film. Along side her is newcomer Charlie Reid. The film is about Joy, played by Coleman, a new mother who has not really taken to motherhood. Reid plays Mully, a young teenager who has recently lost his mother.

He’s running away from home in the same direction Joy is heading and they end up tagging along with each other. Joy is trying to get a flight to Lanzarote and Mully is trying to avoid his father. It's a buddy movie in the vain of Midnight Run. Along the way, they develop a bond and get into all kinds of trouble.

We know Coleman is great but the supporting cast put in a serious shift here. Reid is remarkable for someone of such limited experience (this is his first film ) and Mully's father, played by Lochlann O’Mearain, plays the type of prick that if you live in Ireland you will know well.

I was enjoying the first half of the film where it felt more humour focused but when you have an actor the calibre of Coleman you might as well use her dramatic abilities too.The slight switch half way through from more comedy/drama to drama/comedy worked surprisingly well. Some of the dramatic scenes in the second half of the film I felt elevated it from a good film to a great one.

A particular scene featuring a phone call between Joy a family member I found incredibly moving. It is a huge credit to Reynolds that she gets such great work out of not only an Oscar winner veteran like Coleman but such good stuff from a young lad in his first film in Reid.

A great opening to my favourite week of summer. Joyride will be on general release at the end of the month.


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