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DVD Review: Pixie

August 9, 2021

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Two lads end up on the run with a gangster’s stepdaughter and a bag containing fifteen kilos of MDMA in the Irish film Pixie, a mix of dark comedy and crime caper that is mildly enjoyable but ends up feeling like a patchwork of its influences.

The two guys are Frank McCullen (Ben Hardy) and Harland McKenna (Daryl McCormack), a pair of petty criminals hoping to sell the drugs that have fallen into their possession. The girl is Pixie (Olivia Cooke), the film’s namesake, a young woman whose stepfather is a local gangster (Colm Meaney) trying to stay clean after the loss of his wife, Pixie’s mother, a death that she is trying to avenge.

From here, Pixie becomes sort of a loose road movie that features a few surprises, but is never as unpredictable as it seems to think it is. The film, which is directed by Barnaby Thompson who is working from a screenplay that was written by his son Preston Thompson, ends up feeling like one of those Quentin Tarantino wannabes that was made in the wake of Pulp Fiction in the 1990s trying to capitalize on its success.

It starts off strong with several double crossings in the energetic first few scenes, but the narrative becomes less interesting and struggles to maintain its freshness as it goes along. This is all to say that Pixie feels largely derivative of other, better crime capers. Not only is Tarantino a clear influence, as evidenced by the Spaghetti Western-inspired music and the “Once Upon a Time in Ireland” title card, but we also get the sense that the Thompson’s are trying to ape the irreverent energy of Guy Ritchie and the specific voice of Martin McDonagh.

While they are never quite successful at reaching these heights, this is still a mildly entertaining dark comedy that is elevated slightly by some likeable performances. While her character can end up feeling like an overly quirky manic pixie dream girl (I mean, it’s right there in the title), instead of a fully fleshed out creation, Cooke is an engaging presence at the centre of the film. From her role in Thoroughbreds, we already know that she has a knack for playing seductive sociopaths who wield their sexuality like a weapon, which she takes advantage of here.

On the other hand, Alec Baldwin simply has fun with his brief role as a violent priest, appearing as if he wandered in from a Saturday Night Live skit with a goofy Irish accent. The film has moments of energy and some snappy dialogue, but the plot gets somewhat messy and sort of comes apart as it goes along. It builds towards a slow-motion shootout in a Catholic church that isn’t as transgressive at it seems to think it is, before slightly redeeming itself with a final twist in its closing scene.

While Pixie ends up feeling like too much of a pastiche of better movies to fully stand out, it is still mildly entertaining in fits and starts. What keeps it consistently watchable is some lovely imagery of the Irish countryside, as captured by An Education and The Full Monty cinematographer John de Borman.

Bonus Features (DVD):

The DVD includes no bonus features. A code for a digital copy is included in the package.

Pixie is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 93 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: May 11th, 2021

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