Since her Oscar-winning role in Silver Linings Playbook, additional two nominations (including for Joy), and later on her iconic role as Katniss Everdeen, Jennifer Lawrence has shot to stardom. One of her more recent roles was playing an entrepreneur by the name of Joy Mangano. After months of curiosity, I finally watched the film aptly titled, Joy.
Joy (2015) Film Review
Life for Joy (Lawrence) is unusual. Her house is home to her soap opera obsessed mother (Virginia Madsen); an ex-husband, Tony (Eagar Ramirez) who resides in the basement; her grandmother (Diane Ladd), who never ceases to offer Joy wisdom; and her two children, and today, her father (Robert De Niro) arrives on her doorstep. It would seem his current wife no longer wants him. Joy puts him in the basement and draws a line between him and her ex, who somehow manage to fight more than they see each other.
Suffering financial blow after financial blow, Joy is again inspired to be the creative thinker she was in high school. With a few necessary items, she creates a mop. Only there’s nothing ordinary about this self-wringing household necessity. Peddling it to multiple companies with rejection after rejection, Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper) finally gives her a chance, and the rest, as they say, is history.
This is one of the most unique films (period dramas notwithstanding) I’ve seen in a number of years. It’s inspiring and takes filmmaking creativity to new heights. Directed by David O. Russell (the third match up of Russell with leading lady Lawrence), he’s renowned for his colorful and bold filmmaking. Someone, contrary to what I thought, I think that style was an advantage for this film. This is tagged as a story about three generations of women, including Joy and those women who influence her. In some ways it is because no matter the story arcs, it’s her elders that brought Joy to the place she is when her story begins. Still, make no mistake, this is Joy’s story. Her triumphs, losses and the fight she accepts head on.
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As this opens, the early frames made me nervous about the likability of this one; my fears quickly clear away as Joy progresses. The crazy amount of drama thrown at us in those first few scenes is overwhelming. What most surprises me was all of the characters in Joy’s life and the juggling act she has to assume day after day. That said, somehow everything and everyone had its place and purpose, working together for the good of the story, rounding it out to be emotionally perfect as a story.
The actors bring this all full circle. Everyone is brilliant. From the lead, Jennifer Lawrence to Bradley Cooper (who’s role is far more limited that I’d imagined), I loved everything about this cast. In particular I have to heap praise on Jennifer. I know some probably think she’s over hyped, but for me, she’s one talented actress that shouldn’t be underrated. She commands this role with great ease and style. Her best sequence comes at the end when she finally takes back her life and her business after being upset in her business plan, and displaced by unfair advantage. All I can say is Jennifer commands the role in this sequence.
Beyond that, this film really does impress. Because it’s inspired by a true story, there’s a slow set of pace that isn’t surprising. Still, unlike some films, it’s never boring, and rather than let this distract, I find the entire experience an enthralling and memorable one. From the sets (and costumes, which are, surprisingly, cool) to the script and acting, this is first-class film making.
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You can find Joy (2015) digitally on Amazon Video
CONTENT: There are a few minor instances of commonplace profanity, and one F-word works its way into the script. Beyond that, there’s nothing overly offensive although due to the themes, this is probably a film an adult audience will most appreciate. The film is PG13.