Starring Billie Piper as the abused and abrasive Lilah, whose struggles to maintain composure amidst the chaos of her world are as ever portrayed with poignant clarity and Samantha Morton as Aisha, tortured mother of two battling with her own demons while her children strive to keep her and their tenuous lives afloat, the film has some truly excellent performances. However, it is the portrayal of isolation and bittersweet youth captured by the film’s young stars, Bella Ramsey, Badger Skelton and Emilia Jones that undeniably catapult the piece into a thing of cinematic curiosity. Skelton’s careening Troy hurtles through the streets with a fishing rod almost permanently affixed to his person, a silent and sullen child constantly looking for escape, while Jones as his sister, Vi, marches doggedly onwards through life shouldering the burden of French GCSE orals and of being the family’s primary caregiver. Yet it is Bella Ramsey’s Miranda who, like her namesake, is ever searching for a brave new world with angry zeal and fury, who most fully embodies the film’s magpie motif as she furtively fights for an identity of her own amidst the mess of her misfortune and delivers a lasting impression. Draped in a neon necklace that pulsates with light among dark waves far out to sea, her portrayal of giddy, gritty girlhood is truly one of the film’s unparalleled highlights and most memorable images.
'Two for Joy' captures a rarely glimpsed world and one that is seldom selected for cinematic study with tenderness and bravery. It consciously questions the quality of life for children in tentative situations and the adults that surround them without patronising or belittling Britain’s unseen communities while delivering a stunning and remarkable feat of filmmaking that is as terrible and tragic as it is bewitching.