Posted Dec 26 2015

Joy - This Movie Mop-Rocks

Dir: David O. Russell

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Isabella Rossellini, Diana Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Edgar Ramirez

David O. Russell continues to gather his cinematic family around him. And continues to look at dysfunctional families in general, in Joy. As with his last two movies, once again we have Lawrence, Cooper and De Niro, but here in perhaps a lighter way that either Silver Linings or American Hustle, something that makes Joy very possibly the director’s most purely enjoyable film to date.

It’s almost becoming ridiculously obvious to state how good Lawrence is in anything and everything she does, but here she once again rules this film as Joy Mangano, she who invented the Miracle Mop and helped secure the early success of the home shopping channel QVC. The movie chronicles her attempts to keep her extended family together (ex husband and father both live in the basement, soap opera devoted mother won’t leave her bed etc.) Having put her own ambitions on hold, Joy finds a new lease of life with her mop-tastic invention – and a new world of trouble taking on the big boys in business.

It’s introduced as a film celebrating strong women everywhere and, whilst it does that, that’s not its primary function. Indeed, where Russell’s movie falls down to a degree is in its uncertainly of where to focus. He is as interested in the dynamic of the family as much as he is in the true story f Joy, more so at times. Narratively he enjoys playing with form here, even if the ultimately silly voice over device proves to be ultimately silly. Similarly, he builds to a climax that proves to be strangely anti-climactic.

But you kind of forgive Joy it’s shortcomings. It’s got a very witty, very funny script, terrific performances all round – especially Lawrence and De Niro – even if its characters on more than occasion don’t ring true. And a fab soundtrack – Buffalo Springfield take a bow.

Over the last few years, Russell has seemed almost desperate to finally win his Oscar. This movie won’t do it for him (although Lawrence is all but guaranteed to be nominated once more.) But it has a lot more going for it than American Hustle, and will bring a smile to the face and, indeed, joy to the world this Christmas.


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