Friday, December 25, 2015


Written and directed by David O. Russell, Joy gives us the story of a New York single mother and her miraculous invention that changed her life. Jennifer Lawrence stars as the title character Joy Mangano in a role that allows her to showcase far more of her talents than the Hunger Games franchise. The movie is completely built around Lawrence's performance, and on her back it succeeds.

Fighting through every obstacle including her family (Robert De Niro, Édgar Ramírez, Virginia Madsen, Elisabeth Röhm), frustration, fear, money troubles, and those who attempted to steal her invention from her, Joy is a story of perseverance, determination, and conviction. If there's a moral to Joy it's that you have to fight for your dreams every step of the way.

Joy isn't without its flaws, there are large parts of the story the script skips over (such as Joy's jump to QVC's main competitor HSN and the reasons behind it). There are also some notable odd editing and sound mixing issues, the most prominent of which takes place during pretty awful dubbing of Joy's duet with her husband (Ramírez).

That the film succeeds and entertains despite some pretty unsightly flaws is amazing and a credit to its cast and to Joy's story. However, without these issues the movie could have been truly great. The director also uses intentionally bad acting (such as in soap operas Joy mother watches religiously) to humorous effect. And Russell brings back another of his favorite actors in Bradley Cooper as an executive at QVC who gives Joy her big break. The storlyine suggests an ongoing friendship between the pair that sadly takes place mostly off-camera. The film could certainly have benefited from more of Lawrence and Cooper on-screen together as well.

The movie starts out by informing us that this is a real story about a remarkable woman who somehow regains and retains a much-need optimism to peruse her dreams. To his credit Russell delivers on that promise as Joy takes control of her life and risks everything on a venture that no one really expects to succeed. Although messy, the film hits nearly all of its emotional notes (even if the early relationship between Lawrence and Ramírez doesn't quite work) as the director dives headfirst into the family dysfunction surrounding Joy's life. Who would have thought a movie about a mop could be so entertaining?

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