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Peter Malone MSC  |  12 February 2021

PIXIE, UK, 2020. Starring Olivia Cooke, Ben Hardy, Daryl McCormack, Colm Meaney, Alec Baldwin, Dylan Moran, Olivia Byrne, Chris Walley, Ned Dennehy, Pat Shortt, Sebastian De Souza. Directed by Barnaby Thompson. 93 minutes. Rated MA (Strong violence)

For a girl’s name, Pixie sounds rather elf-like, fairy-like. In fact, Pixie here is something of a bewitching witch played with self-confident charm by Olivia Cooke. But this is something of a fairytale – more in the vein of the Brothers Grimm than Hans Christian Andersen.

There is an instant caption: Once Upon a Time in the West, in red. Then, in bold white, is added: Of Ireland. So we know we are in the land of leprechauns and the IRA.

This is one of those enjoyable adventures where it is probably best to leave some moral sensibilities at the door. It is not meant to be taken literally – or is it? The Irish can spin a yarn and this is what this film is, a complicated yarn with so many twists and turns, so many characters with dubious and double values, and betrayals galore.

And, of course, Ireland has been a Catholic country with Catholic traditions and pedestals for the clergy. These come tumbling down pretty fast, also an indicator of what is to come. Two young robbers gatecrash a clerical meeting, local Irish, visiting clergy from Afghanistan – but, all is definitely not what it looks like, machine guns drawn, and down go the clergy who, in fact, were negotiating a huge drug deal – 15 kilos.

There is a romantic complication between the two men, one Pixie’s former boyfriend, on a long break, as he says, and her new boyfriend. Shooting, taking the bag of drugs, stalking Pixie.

Meanwhile, down at the bar, we are introduced to Frank and Harland (Hardy and McCormack), old friends, eye on the girls, the drugs, Pixie giving them the come on. Pixie is a photographer and Frank ends up as a model, Harland seeing the threat from the old boyfriend, crashing into him – finishing up with a seeming corpse in the boot, the three on the run.

Meanwhile, there is the complication of Pixie’s father Dermot O’Brien (Meaney), discovering the dead man in the car. O’Brien is a character – a gangster, past IRA gunrunner with Father Hector McGrath (Alec Baldwin of all people), devoted to his daughters, tolerating his hefty son from a former marriage, but delighting in being a chef. There is also the sadness of the death of his wife, and Pixie visiting her grave.

Which all leads to more shenanigans, dad in pursuit, his hiring of a vicious hitman from IRA days, Seamus (Dennehy), Frank and Harland relying on their friend who works at the airport, Daniel (Walley) who suggests taking the drugs to his main dealer, his uncle (Moran). Uncle tries to be too smart but doesn’t count on Pixie and a swift knife with a thrust to his hand!

Pixie and co-on the run, eventually caught, finding out the truth about Pixie’s mother’s death. Audiences who were surprised, may be dismayed, by the sacerdotal revelation of drug dealing, there is an even more hyped-up climax, more priests, Father McGrath in vengeance mood, but always acknowledging God, an arsenal of machine guns, old-style habited nuns (of the severest Irish visages), a huge church shootout, but Pixie and her friends saved by the intervention… More twists than the coastal highways.

All’s well that ends well, so it seems, and for Pixie it is, but as for Frank and Harland…

Released 4 January
Peter Malone MSC is an associate Jesuit Media


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