David O. Russell / Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro / Dramedy / 2016 / 12A / 124 mins
Joy, also known as: Everyone else fucked up, so I have to clean up… because that’s seriously all this film is.
Loosely based on the life of Joy Mangano – a self-made millionaire – it’s an inspirational tale of overcoming personal and business obstacles in search of rags-to-riches glory. Her invention that kickstarted it all? The Miracle Mop.
One could argue it’s a fabulous feminist piece. Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in an overcrowded, dysfunctional home which contains her divorced parents, her ex-husband, two kids, a half-sister and, importantly, her grandmother, Mimi (Dianne Ladd). Her mother is a TV addict (and never achieves anything) but Mimi inspires Joy to go further and fulfil her inventive desires. Thus, Joy gives the finger to men everywhere and mops up the mess and grief they cause her. Am I getting it through to you yet? The Miracle Mop is some weird feminist metaphor for women succeeding. Yes… a cleaning product. It’s a bizarre prop symbol, but it works. Now, you’d expect the film to entirely revolve around this concept, right? Sadly, it doesn’t.
If there was no inherent need to rush through a brief biopic of Joy’s life up till the point of her breakthrough invention then the film could have 1) been shorter, 2) been concise, and 3) conveyed the main message more effectively. Which leads us to the script itself – it’s pants. Well, that and there’s an extreme underlying case of ‘fanboy’. Let it be known – David O. Russell has a Scorsese crush. The script is a rushed mess of quick-fire dialogue that really wants to work like GoodFellas, but doesn’t. There’s a sprinkle of Rolling Stones tunes in the soundtrack; the characters are Italian-American; and to top it off he actually uses Robert De Niro! Eurghhhh get a GRIP, Dave.
But, despite enduring the inane first half, it did grow on me. When Joy gets invited to present and sell her product on QVC thanks to Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper) we see more emotion because of the payoff aaand suddenly the plot takes off because, hey, this is what we wanted to watch! Then I remembered… WHY IS THIS ONLY HAPPENING HALFWAY THROUGH THE BLOODY FILM??
The acting is alright. You think Bradley Cooper’s going to get a bigger role in the plot then he’s gone, making a cameo at the end to fill some kind of absurd “I’m here to emphasise you’re better than me” plothole. De Niro and co. are typically solid as the friends and family. And then Jennifer Lawrence: there’s no development, there’s no transition. She hits rock bottom then SNAP she gets angry and wins. However, she plays the ‘down-to-Earth-American-Gal’ quite well. Regardless, it ain’t her best, guv’nor. Check the film out if you’re a fan of Russell or Lawrence. Otherwise just pick something else – same old, same old.
David O. Russell’s New Year’s Resolution: STOP COPYING SCORSESE.
Film as a Film – 2 / Target Audience – 3 / General Audience – 2
For more information about the rating system, click here.
“Joyfilmposter” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.