<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by David O Russell. Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, Elisabeth Rohm, Dascha Polanco
Running Time: 2 hours
It’s a film about the lady who invented the wringing mop. We’ve seen bigger struggles on film before.
But kudos to David O Russell and Jennifer Lawrence for managing to give Joy some grit and gusto in the telling of a tale of a young inventor who grows up and forgets her dreams. She’s mired in the nightmare of a dysfunctional family – her parents are separated, she is divorced from her husband (Edgar Ramirez) who lives in her basement and she has a half-sister (Elisabeth Rohm) she doesn’t get along with. Her mother (Virginia Madsen) watches TV soaps all day and is paranoid. Her father (Robert De Niro) has a failing metal works repair shop. And she’s recently been fired and has to support her two kids.
A series of surreal dreams where she transported into the world of soap operas her mother watches leads her to realise she wants to create stuff again. Her first project is a mop that you can wring without touching the mop head part, getting your hands all dirty. And you can even detach the head and throw it into the washing machine. But she needs help from her dad’s new rich girlfriend (Isabella Rossellini) and support from her ex husband who’s now her strongest ally. The home shopping channel and its boss (Bradley Cooper) come to her rescue after failed attempts to market her new prototype.
There are ups and downs in her journey, all made more dramatic and entertaining by some witty and weird dialogue. But the challenges are few and the middle journey part seems rushed. While Lawrence’s performance is wonderful, there’s not enough to tell us who this person was and why her struggle warranted a movie. There are plenty, I’m sure, of stories about people who’ve had terribly tough lives making to the top. And I’m not sure this one about a wringing mop qualifies as ‘inspirational’.
Sure the last bit about Joy being a humanitarian helping out lower class housewives fulfilling their invention dreams is touching. But it’s also a bit formulaic and meh!