Once Upon a Time in the West…. of Ireland

It wouldn’t come as any surprise to me if this is the first time you’re hearing of this film. Barnaby Thompson’s Pixie had a short and limited cinema release back in October last year and it’s very likely that due to lockdown and cinema closures that it didn’t even screen anywhere near you and will have completely flown under your radar – but this little Irish comedic crime caper is definitely worth putting on your watchlist this year.

Following the death of her mother, Pixie O’Brien (Olivia Cooke) masterminds a way to avenge her death with a little help from Frank (Ben Hardy) and Harland (Daryl McCormack). On the run and out of their depth, the trio accidentally finds themselves reigniting a gang war between Pixie’s father (Colm Meaney) and church leader Father Hector (Alec Baldwin).

With the upcoming releases of Pixie, Sound of Metal (in the UK), Little Fish and Naked Singularity, we are going to be seeing a lot of Olivia Cooke this year (if release dates don’t move too much) and I for one cannot wait – especially if her performance in them is as charming as her role in Pixie. Cooke absolutely carries this film amongst the male-heavy cast and you can’t help become invested in her story. You’re never quite sure whether to trust her or believe what’s she saying, but you will find yourself doing so anyway because of her magnetic personality.

Cooke is supported by Ben Hardy and Daryl McCormack, who both bring their own dash of charm to the troublesome trio. The clueless pair are in desperate need of Pixie’s help when they find themselves extremely out of their depth and wrapped up in something bigger than they imagined. Despite playing the tough guys in the beginning, it’s clear they won’t get far without Pixie’s experience and know-how.

Pixie is full of familiar faces and little cameos that add to its allure. Alec Baldwin plays a gangster priest (yes, it is as good as it sounds), Colm Meaney plays Pixie’s father, who has put his drug-dealing days behind him since the truce between his gang and the priests, and Dylan Moran (Black Books) also makes a short but brilliant little cameo that ramps the story up another level. The Young Offenders fans will also recognise Chris Walley, and Fra Fee (Animals), who we’ll next see in the Hawkeye Disney+ series, has a couple of scenes at the beginning of the film.

Assembling such a fantastic cast is worth a whole star in my final rating in its own right, but unfortunately, they’re let down by the slightly uneven tone of the script. It struggles to balance its comedy and crime-thriller aspects and for me, I would have liked to have seen it lean more towards its crime-thriller ambition because this cast could have totally pulled it off.

Barnaby Thompson’s direction and John de Borman’s cinematography really show off the absolutely stunning Irish scenery and as the young troublemakers drive across the country, we’re treated to gorgeous shots of the countryside and the Irish coast which will make you wish you could hop on a plane and visit right now.

Despite great chemistry between the three leads, gun-wielding priests and nuns, and a gorgeous Irish backdrop, Pixie feels like it never quite hits its full potential. Struggling to balance its tone, you’re left wishing it kind of took things a little further and went a bit darker. Even with this in mind, I would still recommend you pop Pixie on your watchlist, if only to witness Baldwin unleash hell with his gang of priests.

Pixie heads for its UK home release soon and will be available on Digital 15th February and on DVD and rental formats from the 1st March.

Rating: ★★