Two for Joy
Two for Joy isn’t just nostalgia-inducing in its turn-of-the-millennia (judging by the video games and Atomic Kitten’s radio airplay) setting. The uneven, seaside postcard frame seems to hark back to an even more distant past: the heyday of 60s home video and the British seaside.
Both are fitting for a film where everyone is trapped in their past – whether it’s Lillah (Billie Piper), who returns again and again to her abusive boyfriend, her daughter Violet who is “stubborn just like her dad”, or an entire family still reeling from the death of a husband and father. These people come together at a seaside campsite as they all try to run from their problems, both literally and metaphorically – for a couple of days at least.
The movie is a snapshot of lives, young and old, blighted by poverty and cycles of violence and grief. The feature is at its best when it tries to be nothing more than a snapshot – the story and character arcs follow familiar patterns, often falling into outright cliché. But this drama is engrossing thanks to its cinematography and performances. Alternating between found footage-esque shaky cam and more traditional filmmaking, the picture is always tight and urgent with a constant and nagging sense of unease – as if another tragedy is always lurking around the next corner.
Samantha Morton whispers and wallows her way through an understated but absolutely scintillating performance as a mother who just cannot cope. The threat to upstage her comes from Bella Ramsey (Miranda) and Badger Skelton (Troy), the gruesome twosome who find a kindred spirit in each other. While both are to varying degrees obnoxious, violent and cruel in a way that only kids can be, they’re sympathetic too – a testament to the performances. Children are not simply shorter adults with smaller vocabularies; they have their own ways of thinking and interacting, both captured wonderfully in the film.
Two for Joy is a gritty, intense and beautifully realised British seaside snap.
Two for Joy is released in select cinemas on 28th September 2018.
Watch the trailer for Two for Joy here: