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Joy Offers Little to Cheer About

Jennifer Lawrence-Joy-1-680          Joy is an
odd duck of a movie. It comes with impeccable credentials, yet when it’s over
you’re left wondering why filmmaker David O. Russell thought this material was
worthy of a feature film. It’s not that the story of Joy Mangano (never named, although she is
credited as one of the executive producers) isn’t dramatic or unpredictable.
But while it is crammed with incident and unusual characters, it doesn’t offer
larger lessons or truths beyond platitudes: believe in yourself, don’t be
easily discouraged, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

          Jennifer
Lawrence brings her considerable star quality to the central role of a woman
who’s struggling to get by, raising kids with no help or money to spare, an
ex-husband who won’t move out of her basement, an agoraphobic mother who
watches soap operas all day, a jealous stepsister, and a father whose love and
support bend with the wind.

          Then one day
she comes upon an idea and puts herself forward as an entrepreneur. In most
movies, this would be the pathway to a happy ending, but Joy still has many
detours ahead for its plucky protagonist—and us in the audience.

          It’s the
high-caliber cast that keeps us watching: Lawrence is supported by Robert De
Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Virginia Madsen, Elisabeth Rohm, and Isabella Rossellini.
Their lives have no purpose, and their quirks and peccadilloes chip away at
Joy’s sanity on a daily basis. Living with them is such a trial that somehow
her ultimate success isn’t as satisfying as it ought to be. We’re just glad she
survived at all. Bradley Cooper shines in a small but significant role, and
Melissa Rivers contributes an amusing cameo as her late mother Joan.

          Joy is never boring, but its
meandering nature leaves us feeling curiously unmoved. In his determination to
be unconventional, David O. Russell has jettisoned some of the building blocks
that make a biopic work.

5 comments

  1. Jack says:

    Jennifer Lawrence is exceptional in Joy and I loved the movie. 4th Oscar nomination for her.

  2. Jeffrey says:

    David O. Russell should try something new. He has clearly settled into working with a select group of actors and spinning a certain type of story.

  3. John says:

    I’ll give this one a pass thank you very much.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I liked this movie, but I think they tried to cram too much information into the movie while skimming over more important details.

  5. jordan says:

    one of the most frustratingly awful and wholly disappointing narrative experiences I’ve had in all the years I’ve been a movie goer. The heroine’s reactions to her [business] adversities were flabbergasting and Half the time the usually amazing gifted Jennifer Lawrence looked like she was on Qualudes. I expected so much. Maybe I wouldn’t have hated it so much if it had not been written and directed by one of my favorite filmmakers.

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