Two For Joy Review

Two For Joy
Following the loss of her husband and subsequent spiral into depression, Aisha (Samantha Morton) takes her two children to a holiday camp for a change of scenery. The trip only drives a deeper wedge however, and when son Troy (Badger Skelton) befriends kid rebel Miranda (Bella Ramsey), things take a dangerous turn.

by Beth Webb |
Release Date:

28 Sep 2018

Original Title:

Two For Joy

There are moments in Two For Joy, Tom Beard’s electrifying feature debut, where you would be forgiven for thinking The Florida Project had been remade on the British coast. You’ve got Ramsey (best known as pint-sized powerhouse Lyanna in Game Of Thrones) playing the wayward daughter with a taste for neon pink, and Billie Piper sporting massive hoop earrings and sky-high ponytail as her troublesome mum Lillah, both running riot across a sleepy seaside caravan park.

The rest of the film however is perhaps what The Florida Project would look like with Clio Barnard at the helm; a bleak but brave piece of British realism that delves into the minutia of a broken home and all its messy, harmful consequences.

Lillah and Aisha are bound by their misfortunes; Lillah has taken Miranda away from an abusive father, while Aisha, who suffers extreme bouts of anxiety, hopes that the caravan will coax some words out of a voluntarily mute Troy. Miranda matches Troy’s silence with fizzing, terrifying energy. Left to their own devices while their mothers battle their demons, the pair create a private world where no one else is invited and rules are broken freely.

A hugely accomplished first film.

It’s here that Beard captures the spirit of reckless youth, showing us a child’s eye view of the world as he effortlessly draws magic from the seemingly mundane surroundings. It’s only when the film strays into visual effects territory that it loses its way, distracting from some of its more climactic scenes instead of intensifying them.

But that’s the only real misstep. Two For Joy is a hugely accomplished first film that exercises an extraordinary amount of empathy as it lays bare such issues as mental health and domestic violence without casting judgement. At times it may be challenging, but Beard is careful to match any cruelty with moments of hope, resulting in an emotionally rich, beautifully executed family drama.

Sweet but not sentimental, sad but not cynical, Two For Joy is a welcome new take on a British realism with disarmingly impressive performances from its young cast.
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