(director: Tom Beard; cinematographer: Tim Sidell; editor: Izabella Curry; music: Rodaidh McDonald; cast: Samantha Morton (Aisha), Billie Piper (Lillah), Emilia Jones (Violet), Daniel Mays (Lias), Bella Ramsey (Miranda), Badger Skelton(Troy); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Emma Comley, Sadie Frost; Blonde to Black Productions; 2018)

“The probing family drama makes for a good film but an unpleasant watch.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The title refers to a pair of caged magpies which become a recurring motif in the film. But this awkward symbolism doesn’t work as intended, as it never becomes clear the one bird that stands for loneliness while the two together stand for happiness.

In his directorial feature debut Brit filmmaker and photographer Tom Beard is the writer-director of this emotive and grim seaside social realism drama on grieving and coping.The dutiful teenager Vi (Emilia Jones), while preparing for her GCSEs, runs the household since the loss of her father. Biggest problems are dealing with a wayward younger adolescent brother, Troy (Badger Skelton), involved in petty crime, and her still grieving basket-case layabout heavily medicated mom Aisha (Samantha Morton). To shake things up Vi gets the family to take an inexpensive summer weekend car trip to a seaside resort with a caravan site, one that is remembered by the family from better days. At the caravan site Miranda (Bella Ramsey), the feral niece of the kindly owner (Daniel Mays) of the caravan park and daughter of a neglectful depressive drunk mom, Lillah (Billie Piper), hits it off with Troy.

The two dysfunctional families mirror each other. The unnerving domestic drama is well-acted and sets an authentic seedy atmospheric mood. The probing family drama makes for a good film but an unpleasant watch despite its optimism that things will get better and warnings about the danger of negligent parents.

Two For Joy