Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Dascha Polanco, Elisabeth Röhm, Susan Lucci, Laura Wright, Maurice Bernard, Donna Mills, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Ken Howard
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Age Rating: 12A/PG-13
Running Time: 124 Minutes
Determined to catch up with all of the Oscars nominations before the big night on 28th February, we sat back last night to see what JOY was all about and if Jennifer Lawrence is worthy of taking the ‘Best Actress’ award away from the likes of Brie Larson and Cate Blanchett.
Set around the 1980s/90s, and the birth of globally recognised TV shopping channel QVC, JOY tells us the “half-fiction” story of a Joy Mangano, a young female inventor who battled hard and long to bring her innovative ideas to the public and her incredible journey from rags to riches. Now known as one of the most inspirational women in America, and the founder of Ingenious Designs, LLC, Joy, played by Jennifer Lawrence, overcame the problems within her dysfunctional family and all of the retailers that stood in her way to bring to us something that we most likely take for granted to this day, the mop. As the inventor of the first ever self-wringing mop, her genius is still present in all of our houses today!
David O. Russell, who previously directed two of the last three collaborations involving Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper (SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, AMERICAN HUSTLE), once again brings his peculiar style of film to our screens. The beginning of this film is one of the strangest I have encountered in a while, and in all honesty, immediately has you losing interest in the plot. The continual switch from real life to the world of television, although clearly symbolic, is very over-worked initially and leaves the viewer confused from the off.
Saying that, JOY is nowhere near as strange as SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, but it has a very similar impression throughout. However, this film goes from weird to great in the space of about twenty minutes. When Joy decides to make a stand and put her life ahead of the needs of her mother Terry (Virginia Madsen), father Rudy (Robert De Niro) and her ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez) who still lives with them, this film seems to kick into sixth gear and suddenly her invention of this self-wringing mop has you hooked!
‘J-Law’ puts in a great performance, not only portraying the true story of an inspirational business woman, but making that character her own and putting a more non-fictional twist on it. There are undoubtedly some moments in this film when you look at her acting and think “Wow”, but personally, there are not enough here to warrant her second Oscar (her first being for SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK in 2012). In addition to this, when I compare this performance against the likes of Brie Larson in ROOM which I saw the night before, there is no contest. Brie is currently winning this category by a landslide at the moment in my opinion!
Overall, JOY surprised me, but unfortunately in the wrong way. From the advert, I was expecting to be blown away and left thinking what a brilliant film it is, making my decision on ‘Best Actress’ as hard as the ‘Best Actor’ category. In reality, I enjoyed the film and the story grabbed me for about half of it, but I was pretty underwhelmed and left thinking the award should definitely be going elsewhere this year. I do not want this to put you off, as honestly, JOY is still worth your time. It is a very interesting story, with some great names involved, and it will leave you inspired to invent and curious to find out more about the great Joy Mangano.
“Don’t think the world owes you anything because the world owes you nothing.”
Recommendation: Definitely worth a watch, but once again, not necessarily a cinema visit, unless you want to keep up with the Oscars before the big night!