Joy: When a Good Idea isn’t Enough
Joy by David O. Russel, at his third movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, doesn't really hit the target.
Joy by David O. Russel, his third movie starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, doesn’t really hit the target.
Joy (Jennifer Lawrence), the movie alter-ego of Joy Mangano, lives with her grandmother, her divorced parents, her children and her ex-husband. She takes care of her family, having given up on her dream of being an inventor. But when she gets the idea of the Miracle Mop, she pursues it with all of her strength, against all the difficulties.
Her dysfunctional family provides a very engaging setting in the beginning, and Russel puts a mirror in front of it, by having a TV constantly on, on a cheesy and illogical Soap Opera (with Susan Lucci and Laura Wright starring as main characters of this fake but funny show). Well, in Joy’s family, reality is almost as complicated as fiction.
There is a scene in which Russel captures the women’s bewitched gaze at the preposterous Soap Opera. This makes the best angle on something that remains encrypted about women’s nature. They are the ones dreaming, in this movie, and Joy must fight to make her dreams, or ideas, come true.
The movie is completely focused on Joy, a monolithic main character, on her desire to be fulfilled and on how she overcomes hardships on her way to success. But Joy’s character is so preponderant that other characters are not developed at all, remaining one-dimensional. Sometimes the story seems confused, and one may have a hard time empathising with her.
During the movie, we are taken to a brief trip through TV marketing, led by Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper), an executive at QVC, who unfolds all the tricks, all the magic behind it. It is a pity that this world remains just a background to the formula that “in America, the ordinary meets the extraordinary every single day”. Everybody can make it if they work hard enough and never stop believing. No need to say it, we have heard all this before.
So, sadly, the exceptional acting by Jennifer Lawrence is not enough to save the movie. Even though we must acknowledge Russel’s effort to find new ways to present a biopic, and I personally like his resisting to clear genres; quite simply, the story hasn’t got that something that sticks with you.
Writers: David O. Russel (screenplay), Annie Mumolo (story)
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Elisabeth Röhm, Susan Lucci, Laura Wright