Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini
Watch Joy online in the UK: Netflix UK / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play
David O. Russell has enjoyed much success in recent years, a success particularly heightened since his collaboration with Jennifer Lawrence began. Lawrence, meanwhile, has become the biggest star on the planet, gaining box office gross, critical acclaim and an Oscar along the way. While Russell gained critical and audience acclaim with 2010 biopic The Fighter, it was his 2012 comedy-drama, Silver Linings Playbook, that coined the filmmaker as one of the most progressive in his field. The same has been said for American Hustle, despite not receiving a single win among its 12 Academy Award nominations in 2014.
Russell and Lawrence reunite for the third time with this semi-biopic drama, Joy. Lawrence portrays entrepreneur, self-made millionaire and mop queen Joy Mangano. We witness her tumultuous and chaotic life unfold, as Joy succumbs to endless defeats and tribulations. Despite Joy being a pleasant and undeniably watchable movie, the film does render on a somewhat confusing scale; the tumultuous characters walk in and out of Joy’s life continuously, with characters – such as Joy’s best friend, Jackie (Dascha Polanco), and her ex-husband, Tony (Édgar Ramírez) – feeling almost contrived. Additionally, many scenes feel convoluted, reaching the border of almost for-the-sake-of, leaving you uncertain of the film’s initial tone. However, Russell undoubtedly has a knack for great music taste and his latest soundtrack is no different, featuring music from The Bee Gees, The Ronettes and (surprise, surprise) The Rolling Stones.
Joy is almost reminiscent of Martin Scorsese’s 1974 drama, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, mixed with a 1990s underdog movie. However, although everyone no doubt thrives on an underdog story, this canine walks on somewhat ‘been there, done that’ territory. Many are consumed by Lawrence and her patent talent, but her latest performance is by far her most lacklustre. Joy is succumbed to an extreme amount of burden and stress that the majority of people would no doubt find taxing, yet she simply remains calm and almost glazed over throughout the film’s entirety: her voice is consistently monotone; she is highly agreeable; and constantly bodes a mentality of sheer indifference to an almost vacant stature. While this may be down to Russell’s execution of his protagonist, as a viewer, you can’t help but feel indifferent.
Joy is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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