Cert: 12A Runtime: 124 mins Director: David O.Russell Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Dascha Polanco, Diane Ladd and Isabella Rossellini
Don’t ever think that the world owes you anything, because it doesn’t. The world doesn’t owe you a thing
David O.Russell and awards season go hand in hand these days, he was absent last year but he’s back. He always constructs great, intriguing and thought provoking films. On top of that you get a stellar cast as always, this time we have Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Isabella Rossellini. I had never heard of Joy Mangano before and I don’t care about mops at all. So what is Joy all about? A story of a family across four generations, centered on the girl who becomes the woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right. Facing betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, Joy becomes a true boss of family and enterprise. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy’s inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces. Joy feels like a movie that’s trying just a fraction too hard to please. It doesn’t fall over at any of the hurdles biopics usually do, but it manages to create a few problems of its – ones that could have been easily avoided with a slightly changed script.
The films biggest asset is obvious – Jennifer Lawrence. She’s lauded from nearly every corner for her passionate and committed performances and once again she gives a brilliant performance here, albeit one different from how it’s portrayed in the trailers – this is not a huge, operatic performance like in Silver Linings Playbook. No, this is a much quieter performance, one that finds subtlety where another actor could have found histrionic fits. The film doesn’t quite manage to frame this performance as well as it could have. The chief problem lies with the writing of the rest of her family – the bittersweet drama of family has been a central theme of David O. Russell’s work since he first started making movies, but here it just feels a tad over the mark. Joy’s family mostly seem like horrible people in this movie, and whether that’s true to life or not it doesn’t work in the context of this movie.More depth needed to be written into this supporting cast.The script otherwise is as witty and sparkling as the rest of Russel’s work, and features some great performances outside of Lawrence. Dascha Polenka is proving to be an incredibly warm on screen presence, and despite their characters falling into the aforementioned trap of being slightly too nasty, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro are both reliably compelling and interesting. The final 45 minutes, too, are a big asset – they’re the most entertaining portion of the movie.