Review: Pixie

An Irish drug-smuggling comedy that is murderously charming.

Olivia Cooke stars as the titular Pixie, a ferociously enigmatic photography student in Sligo, in the West of Ireland (the county of Normal People fame). Her drug-dealing gangster stepfather holds the law in the small town, whilst also being a doting, apron-donning dad- with a fondness for Nigella Lawson. Pixie is quite the femme fatale, luring two naïve men under her spell and embarking on a road trip adventure: transporting MDMA (with a street value of 1000000 Euro) through the county, in order to dupe a gangster priest no less (played by Alec Baldwin). 

It’s so satisfying to watch a black comedy-come-action film with such a stellar and complex female lead. The name ‘Pixie’ is clearly a dig at the ‘manic pixie dream girl’ trope of Hollywood: the idea that a woman can exist to flirt with and be adored by a boring man’s idea of attractive. She flips this. The two doting men (played by Ben Hardy and Daryl McCormack) expect her to be one way and she quickly proves to be the opposite. She’s pure adventure and there isn’t a dull moment when you’re watching her. 

It’s also the lovable quirks of the film that make Pixie great. It’s violent but tender and hilarious; expect church set shootouts between farmers and nuns, but also heartfelt family dinners and tequila sessions. The writing is equipped with strong wit but has a tendency to be slapstick at times- this falls flat against the stylised strengths. With poor jokes and a pretty outrageous plot, you don’t really know what to expect ever. Get ready for the photography and then the hotel scene…

A standout cast member is Young Offenders’ Chris Walley, who plays lovable drug runner Daniel. His hilarious reputation does not falter, and I found myself belly laughing at his lines. Also, any of the references to Ireland’s Catholic culture is pretty funny, and not to be taken too seriously. One of your favourite moments will be Frank (Hardy) enlightening a wee altar boy about sex and all that comes with it. I won’t quote the iconic line he says for censorship reasons, but it makes the whole film worth a watch. 

Barnaby Thompson’s direction is a clear homage to a new and upcoming Irish cinema, and it’s exciting. The cast is a mix of fresh faces and seasoned talent. The style strongly echoes In Bruges (of Martin McDonagh, a jewel in Ireland’s crown) whilst clashing the Wild Atlantic Way and soft Irish rurality with Tarantino-esque shoot outs, car crashes and live grave digging. It sounds a strange mix, but I can assure you that it does work. 

As cinemas are about to sadly close again, Pixie was the perfect film to come out. Relentless in its outlandishness and comedy- it reminds you of everything a fun film could and should be and, reminds you why cinema is a great night out. Support independent and local cinema when you can!