Release Date: Decemeber 25th, 2015
This movie did not make me feel joyful.
I actually found it very frustrating to watch.
The camera had a habit of not showing what you wanted to see so much that an anxiety settled on myself because I couldn’t see who a character was talking to or what they were looking at. Or there were times where parts of the story were missing from the screen. For example, when Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) presents the mop to QVC we see her talk to Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper) and a conference table full of bad-actingly laughy people which is cut short by Neil acting like a jerk and Joy defending her product briefly. Then the film cuts to her in a kitchen set using the mop with Neil. What happened in between?? I felt like there were a lot of times like this one in which small pieces of information were left out of the film. They still happened, but non-diegetically, not on screen.
This film was riddled with moments like these that left me wanting more that I wasn’t given. Part of that may have been to show Joy having to find her inner strength and to stand up for herself, but then again sometimes things just happened believably easy. (i.e. second chance on QVC, 50,ooo mops, etc.)
Joy is edited in a very interesting way which gives the movie a heightened sense of reality. It almost comes off as too dramatic.
At it’s core, this is a movie about a very dysfunctional family whose matriarch is actually a 25-30ish divorced mother of two. She is tasked with taking care of everyone around her. I’ll give it to the director and writer, David O Russell. That’s complicated. But the other half of the story is that she invents a mop and has to be able to sell it or lose everything.
Those are pretty big odds to overcome for Joy, whose family history suggests she wont. But this movie has almost a Tim Burton-y feel to it. She has frequent nightmares that she is in her mother’s favorite soap opera and these scenes are in the movie and edited together in such a way as to blur the line between what is real and what isn’t. For part of the movie I thought her Mimi, who provided a voice over at different parts, was going to have been a ghost the whole time.
I understand O. Russel’s (Russel’s?) choices. He wanted what was happening to Joy to seem very intense because she really did have a lot on the line with these mops, but it was so intense that it left me feeling so frustrated and wanting to run out of the theater to shed the ickies this movie made me feel.
It was most definitely not joyful, even though the ending was “happy”. I constantly wanted Joy to stand up for herself better and say something…anything… most of the time. Or instead of saying a few words in moments of anger, maybe she should have calmly explained herself better. Might have helped? (i.e. when the idiot spokesguy at QVC was an idiot, when she was arrested, etc.)
There is a small moment of resolution to this matter at the end, but even then I found the lack of dialogue for her character to be highly frustrating.
This movie got a lot of flack when the trailers first came out because once again a David O. Russell film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert DeNiro, who have now worked together in 3 films of his (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, Joy). Surprisingly though, I was not bothered by this when watching this movie. All three of those actors are very transformable and their characters were each very believable. With one exception…
Jennifer Lawrence is 25 years old and I guess at 25 Joy could have been a divorced mother of two, but near end of the film *SPOILER ALERT* after she makes her millions she is suppose to be a 40-50 years old woman and we see Jennifer Lawrence sitting there with possibly the weirdest comb-over and I can’t get over the fact that she is only 25 in real life.
Don’t get me wrong. Jennifer Lawrence is a great, great actress, but I think casting a recognizable 25 year old to play an character who is suppose to be believably either older or stressed out dealing with her family was a bad call.
Overall, the story made sense, the writing was pretentiously depressing, and the acting was phenomenal (minus the previously mentioned men/women at the conference table) and it really made me want to buy one of those mops.