Joy – Film Review by Fran Winston
Directed by: David O. Russell
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Bradley Cooper
In cinemas January 1st
It seems that if you are an actor who wants to work with David O. Russell you should forget about it unless your name is Jennifer Lawrence or Bradley Cooper as ever since Silver Linings Playbook he seems reticent to cast any other performers bar his dream team. Unsurprisingly then this sort of biopic features both with Lawrence taking on the eponymous lead role.
I say sort of biopic because while the movie is based on the story of Joy Mangano – inventor of the miracle mop and a self made millionaire with a multi million dollar business empire – Russell has also drawn inspiration from other “daring women” and as such takes one or two liberties with her story. You can tell from the off that this isn’t a standard biopic from the whimsical storytelling with everything told through her grandmothers narrative in an almost fairytale style.
To be honest this is the movies biggest flaw. While Lawrence does a great job as the single mother struggling to bring her dreams to fruition (she’s already been nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance) you are never quite sure what you are watching. Russell can’t seem to decide if he is celebrating Joy and women like her or presenting them as some sort of fantasy figure much like the princesses in children’s stories and because of this it is difficult to engage fully with this tale.
The cast are stellar without a doubt and all give competent performances, it is just that you are never quite sure if they are anchored in reality or fiction. This makes the movie somewhat uneven as serious moments are given an almost dream like quality.
It does have some wonderful scenes but on the whole Russell’s uncertain storytelling means that you never really get a true sense of the characters or their motivation. As a result there is always a feeling that the stakes aren’t really that high meaning that ultimately you don’t care hugely whether or not Joy succeeds in her quest.
Russell seems to have wanted to make a feel good inspirational movie but he has done Joy’s story a disservice by reducing it to something resembling a dream sequence rather than real life. This looks beautiful throughout and does stimulate a certain interest in the viewer but not in the way that Russell appears to want it to. As a relaxed lazy watch to ease you into the New Year this is fine but you won’t leave the cinema motivated to follow your dreams and it’s unlikely to be more than a one time watch.
Categories: Header, Movie Review, Movies
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