Before We Vanish by Molly Adams Film

Pixie | Barnaby Thompson

Credit: Aidan Monaghan/Pixie

Pixie delightfully channels Tarantino and Ritchie to playful, arch effect.


After spending the last few years delivering stellar second-fiddle performances, Olivia Cooke steals the show in Pixie as the eponymous character, a witty and equally dangerous daughter of an Irish gangster, out to avenge her mother by stealing a holdall of cash and fleeing the country to follow her dreams in San Francisco.  As far as revenge plans go, it’s far healthier than the trail of bodies left in the wake of most revenge-movie heroes, but even the best-laid plans can go awry, and Pixie’s quickly does. Cooke plays the role with infectious glee, her easy smirk belying an easy confidence and very present threat: it’s the sort of role any actress would kill for, but not one that just anyone could pull off, particularly as well as Cooke does. After she enlists two young men who are both helplessly infatuated with her (Ben Hardy and Daryl McCormack), the trio go on the run with a bag of drugs, pursued by deadly gangster priests (led by Alec Baldwin). Though it might sound like the screenwriters simply filled in a Guy Ritchie mad-libs sheet to come up with the plot, Pixie manages to stay on the right side of quirky, never straying into outright cutesy territory. While the film is decidedly a showcase of Cooke’s star-quality, and none of the cast ever steal her limelight, Hardy and McCormack still hold their own as Pixie’s sidekicks, while Turlough Convery’s malicious, snarling older brother continues his effort to become the UK’s most immediately villainous actor.

While I’m sure nobody asked for Ireland’s answer to the Tarantino-lite, heist/gangster film, Barnaby Thompson’s Pixie is a joyride that manages to be exciting, touching, and even occasionally thrilling. John de Borman’s cinematography makes the most of the rolling Irish countryside, casting Pixie in contrast to the Westerns it evokes. Opening with “Once upon a time in the west… of Ireland” in bold lettering, and Pixie’s subsequent vow of vengeance, you might expect something with a touch more grit or gravity, but Pixie fully embraces its own absurdity. While it may not boldly subvert the genre, Pixie is a colorful, sly addition to a Tarantino and Ritchie lineage of films that is soaked in equal amounts of wit and blood.


Published as part of Before We Vanish | March 2021.

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