Tom Beard (director)
28 September 2018 (released)
25 September 2018
In some respects, this is a fairly routine kitchen sink drama dealing with bereavement, abuse and neglect, however Tom Beard has chosen a different angle and focused on a young carer and her struggle to hold her family - and herself - together.
Vi (Emilia Jones) is a teenager who is running the household as her mother Aisha (Samantha Morton) is virtually incapacitated by her depression. Add to this younger brother Troy (Badger Skelton), expelled from school, doing his own thing, only concerned with fishing and computer games. Mother and daughter have something of a relationship, Troy’s is hanging by a thread, and he’s also in with some bad company.
They need a break, and after some convincing decide to travel down to their caravan by the sea, in the hope that the change of scenery will halt the family’s erosion. Here they meet amiable site caretaker Lias (Daniel Mays), who has his sister Lilah (Billie Piper) and her daughter Miranda (Bella Ramsey) staying with him. It soon transpires that things are not quite right with this family set up either, as the booze flows, and tongues and minds unshackle.
Nothing is obvious in Two for Joy as the root of their problems come to light. There are dark marks on Miranda’s back, and Troy is mute for the majority of the film. They are drawn to each other and strike up a curious friendship albeit at the expense of everyone else. While Lias and Lilah scrap and taunt each other about their domestic situation, feral barbs that don’t require details.
In some respects, they are secondary as the fulcrum of the film is the relationship between Vi and Aisha. The traditional roles are reversed with Vi running the household – while still studying - trying to get her mother to help herself though Aisha looking wrecked and confused. On various medications she is barely able to function beyond the house. It’s a spiral of depression that appears to have no respite until an incident at the caravan site throws everything into an abrupt perspective.
Tom Beard’s solid, sensitive script and direction elicit performances from the cast that are uniformly excellent. The colours are suitably drab though not utterly despondent. There’s little in the way of directorial flourishes save for a late scene in a fairground which correlates with an incident taking place elsewhere.
There’s are slight niggles is that there’s something of an inevitablty about the direction of the film, and that all the characters have some sort of issue or conflict. This cages them as and they come close to being stereotypes.
The subject matter means that it is unlikely to get much traction outside the UK which would be a shame. Nevertheless, Two for Joy is a brave, very British film that takes on some serious social issues and for that it deserves credit and an audience.