Living it up in the wild west of rural Ireland. Such a lovely place - the green hills spread for miles, the lakes are painted in a blue, refreshing chill - and the priests are deadly gangsters who run a drug cartel. Sound familiar? It shouldn't.
'Pixie' stars Olivia Cooke ('Sound of Metal', 'Ready Player One') as the titular protagonist, who's out to avenge her mother's death and leave her old life behind. She's mysterious, spunky and worshipped by two boys from the same town, Harland (Daryl McCormack) and Frank (Ben Hardy, 'Bohemian Rhapsody'). Pixie decides to mastermind a heist that, all going well, should see her fulfil her life's dream of moving to San Fransisco with a big bag of cash. Of course, things do not go well, and a calamity of errors, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and generally being surrounded by a bunch of "fekin eejits" leads the three friends on an adventure they'll never forget.
Filmed in Northern Ireland, the scenery really is stunning, and yet director Barnaby Thompson manages to capture both the expansive nature of the area along with the intimate setting of the characters. These genre films tend to work best when they don't go too big, relying instead on strong scripts and great characters, and 'Pixie' is no exception.
Colm Meady ('Layer Cake') is Pixie's father and kingpin of the O'Brien gang, who gets his laughs by being as into killing as he is into following recipes from Nigella Lawson. It's not an unfamiliar trope, but it lands well for laughs and keeps the crime boss interesting. And you can't not mention Alec Baldwin ('The Departed', 'Motherless Brooklyn'), who plays Father McGrath, a gun-wielding priest hell-bent on vengeance - all in god's name, of course. No film with Alec Baldwin as a deadly Irish priest can be bad - and that proves mostly right here too. Likewise, there are enjoyable cameos from Dylan Moran ('Shaun of the Dead', TV's 'Black Books') and Ned Dennehy (TV's 'Peaky Blinders') that all add to the colourful, if not generic, characters.
These genre films tend to work best when they don't go too big, relying instead on strong scripts and great characters, and 'Pixie' is no exception.
Pixie herself is charming, manipulative, and much smarter than she appears. While her charismatic sex appeal plays often for laughs, she carries this film with her warmth and wit - Cooke really living up to the title of being a star constantly on the rise.
Audiences are no strangers to these small British gangster films, thanks mainly to the craft of Guy Ritchie ('The Gentlemen') or the McDonagh brothers ('Seven Psychopaths'), and their influence is strongly felt throughout the film. That's not always a bad thing, but time will tell if 'Pixie' manages to stand on its own two feet, or become yet another forgotten knock-off that gets lost in the back catalogue of quirky misfires. While fearing the latter, I strongly hope for the former, because ultimately, I had a really good time watching this film, even if it can't boast originality or profundity as amongst its attributes.
There are lots of laughs to be had, and though there's not much new, the chemistry between the characters is wonderful, playing well against the violent situations they find themselves in. I always have time for these genre films, and in that way, this did not disappoint. If you're in the mood for a laugh and can't quite bring yourself to watch 'In Bruges' or 'Snatch' for the hundredth time, then 'Pixie' might just be the medicine you crave. Crass, funny and violent, what are movies for if not to escape reality and enjoy yourself.