Olivia Cooke is brilliant as the clever and streetwise Pixie O’Brien on the run from her father, a murderous priest and leaving a trail of bloody exes in her wake. This funny Irish crime thriller takes a long time to get going but once it does it is enjoyable.
Quick summary: Pixie has a hold over the men in her small Sligo town. She can get them to do whatever she wants, including transport stolen drugs all the way to Dingle and participate in a gunfight in a West Cork church. Will she take it easy on innocent Frank and Harland or put them through the wringer like everyone else?
There is a need or a want in Irish filmmakers to have their main characters be impossibly witty, clever and beautiful all at the same time. Sorry, but in Ireland you can’t be all three. You can mix and match and be funny and clever, or beautiful and funny, or clever and beautiful, but you can’t be all three at once. That was beaten out of us by the British, so if you find an Irish person who is very quick with the jokes, well-read and an absolute lasher the chances are their ancestors were landlords in 1847.
OK, bit of a stretch but the initial point remains. Irish films are home to some of the most verbose characters in film. I believe it to be a knock-on effect of Martin McDonagh’s use of Colin Farrell in the cult classic In Bruges (2008), where the Irishman did what Irish men are known for and talked his way out of trouble. The thing is, the dialogue used in Irish films can most likely be heard in college kitchens and rural farms all over Ireland, but the lines are often delivered by actors putting on an accent. It is the rawness and the hint of laughter in everything Irish people say that makes our wit famous. Something gets lost in translation when the English and Americans attempt our lovely brogues.
That being said, the Irish accents on show in this film are more than acceptable. Poor auld Wild Mountain Thyme will now forever be at the bottom of the yardstick when it comes to comparing how badly our fellow English-speaking cousins have butchered our various dialects. Daisy Edgar-Jones is probably top of the pile for her brilliant Western accent in Normal People. It was as if she was plucked from the barren, boring pit of Sligo and forced to talk on-screen (I absolutely love Sligo and most people in it). Olivia Cooke and Ben Hardy probably lie somewhere closer to Edgar-Jones for their attempts at Sligo accents. Hardy’s is more generic and Dublin than west of Ireland while Cooke elongates most vowels that comes out of her mouth but for the most part they were believable.
Have I just rambled on about accents for the last two paragraphs? Jaysus. The movie didn’t lose any marks for how the actors sounded. This could be my harshest rating in a while and that is because it took too long to get going. Plenty happens in the first 45 minutes but it is all world-building for a story that is then a tad rushed and finished another 45 minutes later. The story follows Pixie (Cooke), Frank (Ben Hardy) and Harland (Daryl McCormack) as they try and sell a stolen bag of MDMA to a drug dealer in Dingle. The trio set off on a road trip to try and sell the drugs and get out of their small town. Running at just over an hour and a half, the story doesn’t get motoring properly until just after half-time. There are some brilliant characters, like Daniel (Chris Walley), a local drug dealer who wants in on the deal but sends our heroes off to his uncle in Kerry, who is brilliantly funny on screen at the beginning of the movie and then never seen again. Daniel’s uncle, played by Dylan Moran, has the most hilarious cameo of the entire film but is limited to his five minutes of screen time and is never seen again. I know that the story is about Pixie and her two followers but there could have been less scenes showing how much control the titular heroine had over the menfolk of her town and more showing some of her pursuers.
Speaking of Pixie, Olivia Cooke is fantastic in this film. She epitomises that cool girl in every town who wears colourful leather coats, baggy pants and has pretty bows in her hair who looks like she would knock you out with a punch as soon as make your heart soar with a kiss. She is one of the characters who I would describe as almost ‘impossibly’ witty and fast but Cooke gets away with it because she genuinely looks like she talks like that in real life, albeit with a different accent.
Daryl McCormack is the only Irish actor in the lead trio. He was solid and extremely funny as the ever stoic but secretly mad Harland. The chemistry between McCormack and Ben Hardy (Bohemian Rhapsody) was brilliant. I am excited to see what the young Irishman has in store for us over his career.
Colm Meaney lends his experience to this movie as the fierce and fed up head of the O’Brien crime family. While I would have liked to have seen more of Meaney alongside Moran and Walley, it was nice to see these Irish actors appear in an Irish movie set in Ireland up on the big screen. It was nice to go back to the cinema after another lockdown and sit in a big leather seat, eating as much popcorn as I could fit in my mouth and just escaping to another world. We all need that, especially now.
Pixie is out in Irish cinemas now! Check it out and support Irish films at your local cinema. Stay safe and wear your masks!