Two For Joy is an indie drama directed by Tom Beard that recently got its world premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival. When you watch movies like this they do all follow the same kind of film festival formula that is a key to its success. Do you have a slightly bigger name in a cast full of relative unknowns? Billie Piper from Doctor Who (05-06) is here to lend a hand for the movie. Wistful shots of nature and imagery that parallels the story happening. Well, you have a seaside caravan park and some birds which show us a relationship being formed like one that is happening within the story. Finally, do you have an arty aspect ratio and camera work? Well, it does but now I do feel like I’m being overly cynical towards this film. Let me look at it more positively for a second. It does tackle some difficult subject matters, is full of some great performances and, is visually stunning. I blame a marathon of movie watching for the original outlook.
Like I said it does tackle some issues that it does well getting to the root of. It’s a bit of a slice of life style film The film follows a family with not a lot to their name. The mother suffers from a mental health condition related to the death of her husband. She is played by Samantha Morton. Completely captivating her role, she is played completely brilliantly. She’s a mother at a loss. She has lost her husband and is now slowly losing grip on her family and wellbeing of children.
The oldest in the family, Vi, is in many ways her mother’s carer with one of her friends remarking she is practically a slave to her. She has become the leader of the family and the in many ways the mother figure for her brother. Too much to take on at this age. The film does a good job at showing how much she is going through, how much she wants a normal of life but the good in her and when she has these thoughts, the deep regret.
The son, named Troy, is loyal to a fault and heavily influenced by those around him, due to some form of trauma in his past and no real father figure in his life. He will follow blindly and demonstrated in the opening minutes of the film when he is persuaded to help in the armed robbery of a local shop. Very few lines of actual dialogue the acting is done mainly through body language and facial expression. He is one of the main focuses of the movie and Badger Skelton handles this well with a performance only topped by Morton.
They decide to get away from it all and head to the seaside caravan where the majority of the film takes place. Here meeting Billie Piper’s character Lilah and her daughter Miranda. Clearly just out of an abusive relationship, the bruises still fresh on her daughter she is clearly traumatised by this and lashes out in violent and horrible ways intended to be as rude as possible. It would be easy to find the character annoying and unnecessary but it’s a very real portrayal of the effect parents can have on their children. The whole film can really be summed up as just that.
It’s a heart-breaking story at times with some key dramatic sequences that can fall flat, feel contrived and take it to a very obvious indie film conclusion. It could still bring a tear to your eye if you are usually affected in that way. Praise should also be given to the cinematography. The film is visually interesting. Shot in an interesting aspect ration that is almost standard 16×9 with a border frame added around it. Along with fake grain and scratches scattered throughout, it gives the film a look that is similar to what The Florida Project (minus the border) was going for but clearly more artificial looking.
It’s a valiant effort. With stunning visuals and solid performances, it’s only the conclusion and a couple story moments that really let this film down. It goes in ways that the majority of festival entries tend to go and ticks a lot of the boxes required to make it as one.