Directed by David O. Russell
Written by David O. Russell and Annie Mumolo
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Elisabeth Rohm, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, and Bradley Cooper
With “Joy” David O. Russell delivers a film that is part biopic loosely based on the life of Joy Mangano, creator of the Miracle Mop, and part family drama. “Joy” is a good film, however, when compared to O. Russell’s previous two features, “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle,” it comes up short. “Playbook” and “Hustle” were both among the best movies of their respective release year, and “Playbook” is one of my personal favorite movies of all time. With the pedigree that O. Russell established for himself, especially since he did “Playbook,” I was a disappointed that “Joy” failed to live up to its potential.
The biggest flaw that “Joy” has comes near the end of the movie; there is some information quickly given in the narration, this information pertains Joy’s father and QVC. This information would have a presented a more compelling third act. Including this information in the narrative would have carried the family drama aspects of the film that much further, and would have given Bradley Cooper a more expanded role.
First, it says that Joy continued to care for her father, even when he, her stepsister, and the woman who had given Joy the seed money, tried to sue for the ownership of the company. Exploring the relationship that existed between Joy and her father at this point in her life would have been interesting to see. I wanted to see how the dynamic changed, and why Joy wanted to stand by her father despite everything.
The same thing can be applied to when she was ready to move beyond QVC. Joy and the QVC guy seemed to have maintained an amicable relationship; I did want to see if their dynamic changed, or if they remained friendly despite her wanting to move on, or if they fell out for a bit then rebuilt their relationship. Exploring the relationship between Joy and the QVC guy would have allowed for Bradley Cooper, who plays the QVC guy, would have a larger role in the movie. Cooper was great in the film, and it was a shame that he ended up underused.
Russell directed the movie well; it did not run too long, it moved fast, and it was not cluttered with too many things that were unnecessary. The film had a great dynamic between Joy and her family, which added to the movie because Joy works hard to be successful despite the fact that she is surrounded by an unstable family element that could have dragged her down.
Jennifer Lawrence was fantastic in the movie. She has proven herself to be an actress like Cate Blanchett or Meryl Streep, an actress who always delivers an exceptional performance in any role that she takes on. The quality of performance does not change with the quality of the film. Blanchett and Streep have been excellent in movies that were less than perfect, luckily for Lawrence she has not been in many bad movies, not one of her performances falls flat.