By Adam Ray Palmer
It’s only five days into January and we have been spoilt with films already. The first of January gave us two glorious movies; one being The Danish Girl and the other being Joy which is today’s review.
David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence team up once again to anchor their third film together as they tell the story of an incredible woman documenting her trials and tribulations but more importantly her success.
There is so much more to this film than what just meets the eye as you would expect with Russell. Plus, Lawrence does not disappoint in her role either. Let me divulge…
Joy is the wild story of Joy Mangano and her Italian-American family across four generations. It’s centered on Joy who becomes the woman who founds a business dynasty by inventing the Miracle Mop and becomes a matriarch in her own right.
The film begins with her ex-husband living in the basement; her father has just had to move back in to share the lower floor with her ex and her mother is a soap opera obsessive recluse. This is all juggled with looking after her children and working a dead-end job. Then one day when Joy cuts her hands on glass whilst cleaning, her idea of a detachable, self-wringing ‘Miracle Mop’ is born. This is when the movie comes into its own.
Russell’s script builds and builds from the moment the mop is invented. As Joy grows, her relationships are intensified whether that be positive or negative- no matter what they all impact on the narrative. There are two strong components to this plot; one is the re-telling of Joy’s incredible story and the other is the strength of a family unit.
Even from the very start with the opening sequence, there is a quote that states “inspired by the true stories of daring women, one in particular” – this film is a great example of female-driven cinema. For instance, there are many scintillating scenes featuring four generations of women with big personalities coming together to argue or laugh – these sequences are the core to the film, you feel like you’re in the family.
One of the best scenes in the film is the first time Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper) is showing Joy around the QVC studios as she takes the experience in. It’s gripping as you follow Jennifer Lawrence’s wide-eyed face around the set. The camera trails behind her, and then spins around the studio along with a flurry of close point of view shots. The scene makes you feel warm inside because you know she is so close to achieving her dream.
Joy had huge dreams for herself and her family which is why its January release is perfectly timed. The story of Joy trying to better her life and chase her dreams is very reminiscent of millions of people setting their own New Year resolutions. The marketing department have excelled here.
I feel we need to touch on the talent of Jennifer Lawrence before this review is rounded out. She literally carries this film even when bigger stars should be scene stealing – she simply doesn’t let them. De Niro is average here and I think Bradley Cooper will get harshly left out. He provides the great co-star performance needed for Lawrence to thrive. He is underrated hugely in my opinion. It just doesn’t deny the fact that Jennifer’s performance is assured, charming, professional, confident and mature – she must be one of the best actresses working today, and she’s only in her mid-twenties!
Lest we forget, David O. Russell deserves credit too. His previous mismatch of a film American Hustle struggled to hit the heights of Silver Linings Playbook but he returns to the top with Joy. This movie is more layered, fuller and interesting. The added sub-plot of family strains is so important and gives an extra dimension. I love the quirkiness in his writing, in all his films, it just makes the plot all that more gripping.
This successful combination of actress and director may continue with Joy. The pairing has received many Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations in the past so I am sure this will deliver too. Many critics have stated Lawrence has served her sentence with Russell, but why would she go elsewhere when these shackles can produce movies like Joy? David seems to get the best out of Jennifer and long may that continue.
Cineroom’s Rating: 4 Stars
Joy is currently being shown worldwide in selected cinemas – certificate 15