Joy (2015)

Joy, directed by David O. Russell, was released nationwide (USA) on Christmas Day. I have been wanting to see this film since I first saw the trailer at the beginning of October. The cast made up of Russell’s usual people: Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Robert De Niro (Rudy), and Bradley Cooper (Neil Walker). These three stars worked together on Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle; their chemistry is evident. This film has not received the best reviews, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This film is based on the story of Joy Mangano and her “Miracle Mop” adventure during the 1990s. I would say “loosely based” because there are many facts that are missing and/or different. It is amazing to see how Joy overcame all the adversarial situations and pessimistic individuals in order to create and lead her own company. This film really showed the importance of family, even if they are difficult at times, and how determination can go a long way. Joy is very inspiring when it comes to following one’s dreams. To me, David O. Russell’s quote about the film sums up the basic theme:

“If you’re going to live a fairytale, you’ve got to go through the goblins.”- David O. Russell

Jennifer Lawrence was terrific. Throughout the whole film, I felt like she was actually Joy! She completely grasped the role, including Joy’s unyielding personality. Surprisingly, Bradley Cooper does not have as much screen time as one might expect. Because of this, Lawrence carries this film on her shoulders, which is very different from many male-dominated films in theaters today. Her performance creates a strong connection with the audience. When she struggles, the audience feels her struggles. One of my friends even said that she could feel the stress that Joy was feeling. Lawrence’s Golden Globe nomination (Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy) is rightfully earned.

Bradley Cooper is one of the headlining actors, but his role does not give him much screen time. In fact, he does not make his first appearance until the plot is well on its way. Despite his limited participation, Cooper shines as Neil Walker, the head of QVC at the time. He acts as a boss, mentor, and confidant towards Joy. It is fun to see Lawrence and Cooper’s characters support each other through a strong friendship, which they have carried over from the several other films that they have starred in together.

Robert De Niro plays the role of Joy’s dad, Rudy. Rudy is divorced (twice, actually) and always looking for love. He supports Joy, but often has a hard time showing it. Joy takes care of him more than he takes care of her. Rudy provides much of the comedy, since he has a very blunt personality and really no filter over what he says. His girlfriend, Trudy  (played by Isabella Rossellini), financially supports Joy. Both Rudy and Trudy frequently doubt Joy and her company, but they are always there for her. Loyalty is one of the main messages in the film.

I really enjoy David O. Russell’s directing style. There is a sense of comfort and warmth in the way he presents the setting. The camera movements are also very noticeable, in a good way. It is clear that Russell is inspired by many of cinema’s greats, like Steven Spielberg. He uses techniques that are lost in many of today’s films. The film was created in a unique and unconventional fashion that was refreshing.

Overall, Joy was an entertaining film that provided many themes relating to family and love. I really appreciated the inspiring message that hard work will eventually pay off. It was nice to see a director who uses artistic techniques to tell a special story. The acting was fantastic as well. Joy is a great film to see over the holidays with your family. I encourage you to go see it and share your opinion.

The film is rated PG-13 for one (I repeat, one) curse word. Other than that, it is a clean film that everybody can enjoy. 


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