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Joy Review

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Loosely based on the life of inventor Joy Mangano, Joy sees director David O. Russell celebrate female determination and the pursuit of the American Dream with Jennifer Lawrence in fine form as the title character, a divorced mother of two whose life is spent keeping her dysfunctional family, including divorced parents Rudy (Robert De Niro) and Terri (Virginia Madsen), in check, all the while watching her dreams of making her fortune off one of her many inventions fall by the wayside. Fed up with the disappointment her life has become, Joy is inspired to invent the self wringing mop which, thanks to the early days of home shopping channels, becomes an overnight success.


Her name is above the title, so there is no doubt that this is Lawrence’s show, and she grabs the role with both hands, putting in a tremendous performance that ends up carrying the movie through to its conclusion. She plays the plucky underdog with ease, and watching her character grow and evolve before our eyes is a delight as every problem she faces only strengthens her even more. But problems start to arise when you realise that almost everyone else in the movie is just there to present a road block to her success. I wouldn’t call it a waste of the likes of DeNiro, Isabella Rossalini, or Elisabeth Rohm, they put in fine performances as the kind of quirky characters we have come to expect from Russell, but you do feel he’s trying too hard to manufacture hardships for Joy to overcome.

Russell’s direction feels a bit more fast and loose than usual, with a confusing, time jumping first act making the start of this movie a slog to get through. It’s not until the Miracle Mop comes into being that Joy comes together, and at times it becomes, for the lack of a better word, a joyful experience, especially when it focuses on a fledgling QVC. Watching the behind the scenes goings on of an infomercial, as Bradley Cooper’s head of said channel skips gleefully between a bank of ringing phones as the sales of the Miracle Mop rise higher and higher, is oddly entertaining (complete with Melissa Rivers made up to look like her mother Joan), but it is all over far too quickly as Russell surges forward with Joy’s journey to the top of the business. The pace is Joy’s biggest problem, as it rarely lets up to let us catch our bearings and let the story breath. The third act cumulates in the fairytale ending we all knew Joy was going to get, but it feels far too neat and easy, no doubt taking liberties with the real life story to present a more film friendly vision of the American Dream.

With any other actress in the title role, Joy would have collapsed under the weight of its fanciful storytelling, but manages to deliver an entreating underdog tale thanks to Jennifer Lawrence's amazing central performance.







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The Movie Bit: Joy Review
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