Two for Joy: Family drama proves heavy going but poignant

21st February 2019

Aisha’s husband passed away some time ago and having not dealt with her grief, we find her in an un-healthy daily pattern of being curled up in a duvet ball, in bed and in deep depression, unable to face normality. Emotionally closed off and completely glazed over to the extent that her teenage daughter Viola aka Vi, (Emilia Jones) acts more of the adult in the house. Aisha (Samantha Morton) transitions from her bed to the sofa, either completely unaware or otherwise unable to cope with her children, who are struggling just as much as she is, if not more.

Her young son Troy played by the remarkably talented Badger Skelton, silently suffers as he internalizes his father’s death. His way of coping is by getting out of the stagnant house environment, riding off on his bike and falling in with the wrong crowd who encourage him in petty theft, crime and racial cruelty.

Vi overseeing what’s happening on both sides feels the urgency to interject before she loses herself in this heart-wrenching and messy process. She sits at her mother’s bedside and pleads that they get away for a weekend together, to their dad’s old caravan. Under fear, hesitation yet heavy persuasion, the trip is agreed and they set off to the beautiful British coast in hopes of fresh air and fresh perspective.

Billie Piper and Daniel Mays in Two For Joy.

The film now shifts from a chaotic urban neighbourhood to a picturesque and simple seaside location where now, they can sit and listen to the waves rolling in and hopefully take a breath. 

Lias (Daniel Mays) is the unassuming and friendly manager at the caravan site (who I personally clung to for a sense of normality throughout the rest of the film) who we hope may bring Aisha back into a brighter state of mind by being a constant kind and friendly addition to her weekend. 

Just as we begin to escape from the bleak first chunk of the movie via sea-side serenity, we’re introduced to Lillah (Billie Piper) and her daughter Miranda (Bella Ramsey) who although again seem pleasant, their brazen and unconventional nature slightly shakes us back into a sense of uncomfortable as they interact with our three emotionally disconnected and complex lead family.

We wonder at first whether Miranda and Troy might be a uplifting friendship but it’s soon apparent that she too comes with a string of destructive issues that could lead to additional unsettling situations. – I will say no more so not to spoil your experience of the story.

Scene from Two For Joy.

I’ll be honest Candid readers; I found this one hard to get through. It was a tad too mellow and simultaenously heavy for me. But, that’s one opinion and I can absolutely appreciate that the acting in this film is so exceptional that it succeeded in making me feel everything it was meant to. Aisha’s heartache, Vi’s frustration, Lias’ uncomfortable efforts to ease the awkward silences, the tension and the sorrow, I felt it all.

Being a Brit but living abroad I admired the stunning cinematography that captured a nostalgic essence of home, from the squawking of magpie’s to the breezy British beach scenes that I couldn’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia. 

There’s an opportunity here for viewers to have opinion in regards to social classes and that these parents in Two for Joy are irresponsible to the extent that their consequences ripple down and negatively impact their families. For me, the film was actually an eye-opening reminder and challenge not to ever judge what you don’t fully understand about people’s situations. Samantha Morton’s acting helped us remember that there’s always another side of the story that should never be over-looked or uncared for, especially in regards to mental health.

Two For Joy is released on iTunes on 25th February 2019.

Words by Lisa Coleman @Lisa_D_Coleman.

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