by | Dec 28, 2015 | 0 comments

Jennifer Lawrence Sustains a Crazy Film from David O. Russell

David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence have forged a bond that has catapulted their careers. With Russell, Lawrence has received two Oscar nominations and has won one for Silver Linings Playbook; Russell has been able to profit of the biggest hits of his career thanks to Lawrence’s star power, he has had a streak of hits with The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle. Joy is their third joint project, but it seems as though their hot streak is starting to wobble.

Joy is a story loosely based on the real woman Joy Mangano, who invented the miracle mop. In Russell’s story, Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) is the matriarch trying to keep her family together. She works as an airline clerk trying to support her two young children, her mother (Virginia Madsen), who stays in bed watching soap operas, her grandmother (Diane Ladd), who has always pushed Joy into being ambitious, her ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez) who lives in her basement and is an aspiring singer, and her father (Robert DeNiro) who just got divorced for a third time. She also has a half-sister (Elisabeth Rhöm) from her father’s first marriage who often pops in to bring the mood down. Joy has always been a creative person, and her grandmother has tried to garden and grow that creativity, and finally after 17 years stagnated in misery, Joy finally sparks an idea and is able to patent it: a self-wringing mop. The story then follows the business illiterate Joy as she tries to break through the capitalist chains, and we end up catching a glimpse of Bradley Cooper who plays the head of the QVC channel that ends up advertising Joy’s mop.

Joy is a very American story, and it certainly has a very strong feministic message in it as well; all the men in Joy’s life only seem to be cumbersome and obstacles, she is the one who has to morph and carry all the weight. Lawrence is, without a doubt, one of the best actresses in Hollywood today; she is incredibly versatile and in Joy she alone is the anchor that sustains the movie and prevents Russell from flying off the hinge with his crazy narrative. So impactful is Lawrence’s presence that she ends up liberating the supporting cast, so that they can goof around with their characters. Of the two that seemed to be having the most fun were DeNiro and Isabella Rossellini, the latter who plays DeNiro’s love interest and Joy’s investor.

But really, Lawrence shouldn’t have to be the one holding the movie together, and this blame goes directly to Russell. Russell has come off an incredibly solid movie, which was American Hustle; but here he seems to have taken his skill for granted and his script and style seem to be a bit all over the place. Yes, there are moments where we see some of Russell’s wit, but for the most part he just seems to be spurting out ideas in not particular order or structure. I was especially struck with how he used Bradley Cooper. Cooper is also one of the “it” actors of today, and it was a shame to see him in the role that he was. In fact, his character seemed to be bloated simply because of Cooper being cast in it. This made the story wobble a bit because Cooper’s QVC director isn’t important at all. It seems as though Russell was going so fast to get this film made that he wasn’t able to look anything over at all.

Even so, Russell is lucky to have a spectacular Lawrence who is able to hammer the director’s crazy screenplay down into a comprehensible story, so much that you end up having a good time. 







Historical Accuracy

What is your favorite David O. Russell movie? Let me know in the comments section.

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