Joyride review – Olivia Colman tries hard to keep odd-couple kidnap movie on the road

Olivia Colman does her best with this fundamentally silly, contrived and implausible movie: a road-trip heartwarmer, or maybe heartmicrowaver. She plays Joy, a solicitor in a small and close-knit Irish town, who has just had a baby, and the strains of being a single mum have brought her to an emotional crisis. One morning she is in the back of a cab with her newborn, about to hand her child over to her best mate who lives nearby for official adoption and then drive on to Kerry airport for a holiday in Lanzarote, clearly in deep denial about her own nascent feelings. But then her taxi is stolen – with mum and baby in the back – by runaway teen Mully (newcomer Charlie Reid) who jumps into the driver’s seat and floors the accelerator; he has taken the charity cash raised for the cancer hospice that had cared for his late mother. In fact, he had defiantly confiscated this cash from the real wrongdoer, his dodgy dad (Lochlann O’Mearáin), who was cynically planning to use it for his various debts.

And so, this odd couple go on their joyride across the country, quarrelling and then developing a mother-son bond, learning life-lessons along the way in the time-honoured style, with the film glossing over the question of how exactly they never get arrested. There are some nice cameos here from Ruth McCabe and Tommy Tiernan, and an interesting flashback in which Joy is assailed by a long-suppressed unhappy memory about her own mother. There’s also a big whiplash narrative twist which underscores just how very unlikely the whole thing is. Every actor involved sells it hard and it’s good natured, but the unbelievability factor is just too high.

Joyride is released on 29 July in cinemas.

The Guardian