STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Édgar Ramírez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Elisabeth Röhm, Dascha Polanco, Isabella Crovetti-Cramp, Madison Wolfe, Emily Nunez, Melissa Rivers, Donna Mills, Susan Lucci, Maurice Benard, Laura Wright, Alexander Cook, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Drena De Niro and Erica McDermott
Joy is the story of the title character, who rose to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.
Joy is a film that is loosely based on the true story of Joy Mangano. We meet Joy living in a chaotic husband with her two children, her mother, her grandmother and her ex-husband in New York. Ever since she was a child Joy has dreamt of inventing things and hasn’t managed to accomplish these dreams as an adult. One day she has a eureka moment that inspires her to create a prototype of a self-wrining mop aka the miracle mop. From here we follow Joy on her journey in trying to get her own enterprise off the ground whilst having to deal with matters within the family.
Joy sees David O. Russell teaming up once again for his holy casting trinity in Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro in this film loosely based on Joy Mangano, who created the miracle mop and became one of the most successful entrepreneur’s in the United States. Now the subject matter itself leads to an interesting issue for a filmmaker to tackle – how can you make a film about someone attempting to accomplish their dream since childhood of inventing and being remembered for it, via a mop, entertaining viewing?
For the first act of this film it really struggles with finding its footing with the story it’s trying to tell as we get the backstory of Joy and her family members, right down to her ex-husband, and how she finally looks to put herself first and chase after her dream. We go through the trails and tribulations with Joy as she works hard to achieve what she wants and Jennifer Lawrence gives a good performance in the title role of an underdog story, honestly if her performance wasn’t good here and you didn’t care about her character, then the film would fall flat completely across the board. Bradley Cooper’s character, whilst limited, gives the film the needed boost it needs to give the story momentum and has that spark of chemistry once again with Lawrence that gives their scenes extra attention. Robert De Niro continues his trend of giving good performances in David O. Russell films though his character falls into my negatives which will talk about in the next paragraph. The like of Judy Becker and Michael Wilkinson do a good job on the production and costume design side of things here, especially when we get to the television studio of QVC, in which we meet Melissa Rivers playing her late mother Joan Rivers briefly.
If you weren’t a fan of O. Russell’s American Hustle, he takes it back to basics here with a story unfortunately that is so paper thin in its premise, the dysfunctional family dynamic seems like it could’ve been used in another film and just seems to take up time and unnecessary scenes. Besides Joy you care for absolutely nobody else in this film, bar the exception of perhaps her best friend and grandmother, though they have a few scenes whilst the rest of her family (and ex-husband) take up the majority of the screen time and bring Joy back down to horrible reality are at times a drag. There’s also a few lines and sub-plots here and there that never really gets explored such as her relationship with her half-sister and her bed-ridden mother who spends her time watching a certain soap all day and there’s a thing with her and a plumber that just happens in the background of the film though I would’ve been interested to see where that went if I’m honest. Finally there’s one plot point which seems bizarrely convenient in which Joy goes to a bathroom, finds a door that leads to something that becomes crucially important to the films final act. Like I said, it’s bizarre. Also the first half of the film up until the point that Bradley Cooper’s character comes into it is painfully slow and some of the scenes leading up to this are slightly all over the place and if you go into this without seeing the trailer or what the story is about then you might be lost and give up watching the rest of the film. Thankfully though like I said, when Cooper comes into it the story picks up and I became invested with Joy’s journey.
The film takes a while to find its footing, Jennifer Lawrence gives a good performance in the title role as we go through her underdog journey and like the character enough to go the distance with her, even though her family in general is irritating and drags the film done. Not O. Russell’s best but definitely not his worst. 6/10