A crime comedy set in Ireland that has all the hallmarks of an early Guy Ritchie film sounds like it should be a lot of fun. And in many ways that’s exactly what Pixie is but like it’s titular character it remains something of an enigma.
Pixie (Olivia Cooke), her mother having died a few years previously, is desperate to leave Ireland and head to San Francisco. The problem is her latest attempt at escaping has resulted in one dead body, a bag full of drugs and has ignited a war between two rival gangs. Thankfully for her, friends Frank (Ben Hardy) and Harland (Daryl McCormack) stumble into the fray and together the trio will band together to sell the drugs, beat the bad guys and ride off into the sunset, if they can.
Pixie’s greatest strength is a combination of fun dialogue and Olivia Cooke. The script often zips along taking in random asides that do little to further plot or character. But whenever Cooke is on screen the film remains engaging. The dialogue is frequently deadpan funny while Cooke’s performance has a glint of mischief behind everything she does, meaning you’re always interested in what she’s up to.
The issue is the story never really knows where it’s going. One minute it offers a Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels level of idiots trying to get away with murder, the next it’s dealing with Pixie’s loss and all the while Frank and Harland’s friendship just gets in the way. Clearly characters were needed for Pixie to bounce off but these two are just, well, boring. Whatsmore, Pixie is often written, as Gillian Flynn would refer to, as ‘the cool girl’, there to be little more than the embodiment of the male characters’ infatuation. Thankfully it never becomes problematic, mainly because Pixie is always in charge, something that ultimately makes Pixie an entertaining watch.
St. Trinian’s director Barnaby Thompson does a solid job of elevating the film by taking in some stunning Irisih vistas, the film could easily be seen as a tourist video with heart. And when it comes to the third act he has a great deal of fun with the set pieces and in particular a “how did they get him!?” cameo from Alec Baldwin.
Not quite as mischievous as the title suggests, Pixie is nonetheless a fun, if flawed, slice of Irish charm.