Running Time: 2hr 4mins
Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, Virginia Madsen, Édgar Ramírez, Isabella Rossellini
Jennifer Lawrence has done it again! She has provided us with another dazzling and unforgettable performance, and with great support from the team that brought us The Silver Linings Playbook (2012); the legend that is Robert DeNiro, her partner in crime Bradley Cooper and the man that keeps guiding them to Oscar glory, David O. Russell, Joy is another stimulating and enervating film, where the camera never stops moving and the characters never stop talking.
Joy, played by Jennifer Lawrence is a true story of a young woman who after much downfall, debt and heartbreak creates a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right. She faces betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love while caring for her unpredictable father (Robert DeNiro) who moves in with her, battling her jealous sister (Isabella Rossellini), caring for her mother (Virginia Madsen) who also lives with her, her ex-husband (Édgar Ramírez) who lives in her basement, her children and her grandmother who yes, also lives with her. Joy is an inspiring story which sees’s a single mother battle to bring to life her own revolutionary self-wringing mop on the QVC home shopping channel, whilst battling with condescending male corporate types and various members of her massively dysfunctional extended family. Joy becomes a true boss of family and enterprise, as her passion, fight and fierce imagination carries her through the storm she faces.
Although Joy can be seen as a simple biopic story, O’Russell creates an intriguing and stylised film. Whilst his previous films such as The Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle (2013) have a cheekiness and comedic sensibility, Joy is not set up to be laughed at; yet the realism of family dynamics and the realism of how people talk over each other or in this case shout over each other, creates such a relate ability you can’t help but laugh, therefore in my opinion, this story is endearing and more than just a story about an invention. However, some may believe taking away the comedic set ups O’Russell usually inputs in his films almost make the film lack content, especially as O’Russell purposely inputs non-speaking set pieces which frames Lawrence beautifully, as she mesmerises the camera, but with the lack of obvious comedy and the lack of speaking content in general can make the film slightly subdued. However the chaotic family scenes have a let-the-camera-find-the-action quality, which is familiar from The Silver Linings Playbook, and parts of The Fighter (2014). O’Russell provides us with inventive camera work such as the camera moving down the basement stairs into Joy’s ex-husband’s lair this technique is like a reminder of what inventive camerawork can achieve and visually thrilling for those film lovers who look at more than just the story.
The cast in Joy are great, individually however they can come across quite dull, but this might be due to Lawrence stealing almost every scene she is in. Bradley Cooper who Lawrence has been cast with many times before comes across as the weakest performance in my opinion, and whilst I was excited for Lawrence and Cooper to be paired up again hoping for that energy we all fell in love with from the duo in Silver Linings Playbook, unfortunately it is not visible within Joy. Robert DeNiro is the comedic value in the film although he is meant to be somewhat an unlikable character, his humour lightens the film and he enjoyable to watch as always, but even though he is a legend, it is Jennifer Lawrence who gives the strongest performance, and showing us why exactly she is nominated every year.
Joy is a fantastic watch, and greatly directed film with a amazing cast which pulls of a simple but effective story but whether you enjoy is fully is subjective as it is hard not to compare it to David O’Russell’s previous films with the same cast.