The Movie Waffler New Release Review - JOY | The Movie Waffler

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New Release Review - JOY

joy movie review jennifer lawrence
The story of inventor Joy Mangano, creator of the Miracle Mop.

Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: David O Russell

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert de Niro, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Elisabeth Rohm, Donna Mills, Dascha Polanco, Edgar Ramirez, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Lucci


In Joy, Lawrence is saddled with a director who doesn't seem to understand the diamond he holds in his palm and would rather blast us with Rolling Stones songs than allow us to soak up the performance of an actress we may well look back on as one of the all-time screen greats.


joy movie poster


David O Russell's Joy opens with a title card that reads 'True stories of daring women', which seems quite patronising at first, but on reflection, he may be onto something. When most of us first learned Russell was to give us a biopic of the inventor of the Miracle Mop, we were far from enthused. Conversely, the majority of us were excited for Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs biopic. Is Jobs any more significant a figure than Joy Mangano? My mother has never operated a computer in her life, let alone an iPod, iPhone or iPad, but she has made use of several of Mangano's inventions.
joy movie review jennifer lawrence
The film's marketing goes out of its way to avoid mentioning the fact that this is a biopic of Joy Mangano, and for much of the film it seems Russell himself has little interest in telling her tale. Russell fills his film with so many supporting characters in the opening act that the effect is like overloading a hot air balloon; it fails to get off the ground until Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) takes centre stage in the film's thrilling middle portion, when we finally get to see just what it was that Mangano achieved.
joy movie review jennifer lawrence
Before that we meet her family and friends, an impressively assembled ensemble featuring the likes of Isabella Rossellini as Joy's reluctant benefactor, Robert De Niro as her father and Diane Ladd as her grandmother, who occasionally narrates the story in voiceover despite not being as pivotal a character as her introduction leads us to believe. Russell spends more time early on developing these side characters, most of whom are perfunctory and pointless, than he does Joy, filling in backstories that ultimately lead nowhere. As usual, Russell over-directs these early sequences in his customary sub-Scorsese manner, adding rock music at inopportune moments that at times drowns out dialogue.
joy movie review jennifer lawrence
In the second act we get a tease of the great biopic this could have been, as Joy is given a shot at marketing her first invention - the Miracle Mop - through the newly launched shopping channel QVC. Through Lawrence's barnstorming performance we grow to respect Mangano, and come to understand the impact she made in households across the world. A scene in which Joy finds herself on live TV attempting to sell her product feels like one of those star-making moments, except of course Lawrence is arguably already the biggest female star we currently have. With The Hunger Games now behind her, it will be interesting to see how Lawrence progresses in adult roles. In Joy, she's saddled with a director who doesn't seem to understand the diamond he holds in his palm and would rather blast us with Rolling Stones songs than allow us to soak up the performance of an actress we could well look back on as one of the all-time screen greats.
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