Directed by Barnaby Thompson, producer of “Wayne’s World” and “Spice World”, and written by his son Preston, “Pixie” feels like it came through time warp from around 1998, probably on a VHS tape with a “CLEARANCE” sticker on the case. He checks every wishlist item. There’s even a big title card after the opening teaser playfully renaming this story ONCE UPON A TIME IN IRELAND. It would seem self-deprecating if the film had even an iota of its own identity, save for regionalisms.
Olivia Cooke stars as the main character, a twenty-year-old girl who happens to be the stepdaughter of a local gangster (Colm Meaney) who also has two other stepchildren, one of whom – the half-brother Pixie’s Mickey (Turlough Convery) hates her so much that their every interaction is marinated in impending violence. Pixie is a heart breaker, famous by guys for her good looks, and rumored to take erotic photos. She wants to go to art school in San Francisco and, in the opening sequence, installs her two current and former lovers on a flight to earn enough money for the trip. But the crime turns out badly, as thefts often do.
Most of the rest of the film follows Pixie and two local guys, Frank (Ben Hardy) and Harland (Daryl McCormack), as they travel across the country, writhing in bloody shenanigans at the behest of Pixie, who must reset the local criminal / karmic scales after this disastrous theft. Irish accents and landscapes and abundant Catholic iconography (including a ring of gangsters posing as priests, as if the Church doesn’t have enough problems already) suggest that the film is channeling Martin or John Michael McDonagh as well as Tarantino. But in reality, there isn’t a single non-derivative element to be seen anywhere in the film, except for the big-screen cinematography of French-born John de Borman, which captures natural light and textures. with the sense of the presence of an art photographer.