Film Review: 'Joy'


Jennifer Lawrence stars in 'Joy,' the story of a family across four generations, centered on the woman who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch. Photo credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox - TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Director David O. Russell has once again brought out the best in Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence in his latest film, Joy. Drawing from the life of Joy Mangano, Joy explores a young life filled with imagination that fades into the background following her parents’ divorce. As an adult, Joy is living a life unfulfilled as she is constantly inundated as the role of the fixer. She’s divorced, raising two kids and trying to keep everything and everyone in her family afloat.

Joy’s life is filled with a host of characters, including her mother (Virginia Madsen) who’s seemingly numb to anything outside the world of her soap operas, her ex-husband Tony (Édgar Ramírez), a struggling singer, that lives in her basement, which he shares with Joy’s father Rudy (Robert De Niro). Her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) is convinced that Joy will one day emerge as the true matriarch of the family. For a jaded Joy, the idea of that seems far-fetched as the once imaginative little girl full of inventive ideas is leading a life down an altered path.

And then a light bulb goes off. Following a trip on her father’s girlfriend’s boat, where she cleaned up spilled wine and broken glass that cut her hands, the Joy of yesteryear reemerges as she sketches out her idea of a self-wringing “Miracle Mop” with crayons in her daughter’s room.

Watching Lawrence in the scene is invigorating. Witnessing Joy release years of tension into a creative output is intense, yet captivating. As someone that worked for the little she had to take such a risk might be one of my favorite onscreen moments of the year.


Isabella Rossellini, Mateo Gomez, Robert De Niro, Virginia Madsen, either twin Aundrea or Gia Gadsby, Edgar Ramirez, and Jennifer Lawrence in a scene from 'Joy.' Photo Credit: Merie Weismiller Wallace - TM and © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

As Joy pursues her new endeavor, she’s nagged on constantly by her jealous half-sister Peggy (Elizabeth Röhm) and is chastised by her father and his girlfriend--and financial backer--Trudy (Isabella Rossellini) about every misstep of the Miracle Mop adventure. As much as these characters will grate on your nerves throughout the film, their negativity fuels Joy’s persistence and will to succeed.

With fantasy sequences that distract from the story, Joy isn’t perfect; but Lawrence is. The gusto that she brings to each scene is unmatched by any of her co-stars, including her regular O. Russel scene partner Bradley Cooper, who plays Neil Walker, the QVC exec who helps jumpstart Joy’s empire. There's a strong onscreen chemistry between the two actors, but throughout the two hour film, it's Lawrence that embodies the strength and tenacity of her character and really just steals the show.


Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in 'Joy.' Photo credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox - TM & © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

There are so many things to take away from Joy; the character’s work ethic, drive and desperation to get back on the life path she was meant to take is nothing short of inspirational. Joy shows that the sky is truly the limit for those who embrace their ambitions and let their imagination lead the way.