HOLLYWOOD—It seems every time director David O. Russell and actress Jennifer Lawrence team up the duo create magic. They first worked together in the dramedy “Silver Linings Playbook” and in 2013 worked on “American Hustle.” Lawrence was sensational in “Silver Linings Playbook,” and I thought she was the best thing in the drama “American Hustle.” Sorry, I was not the epic fan of that movie as so many others were.
This time Russell and Lawrence team up for the drama “Joy” which chronicles the tale of Joy Mangano (Lawrence) who created the Miracle Mop. Along for the ride, Russell also reteams with actors Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper who also starred with Lawrence in the director’s previous outings.
De Niro portrays Joy’s overbearing father Rudy, who seems to speak his mind at the most inopportune times. Cooper fills in as Neil Walker, an executive at the Home Shopping Network who gives Joy her shot at exposing her invention to the American public. He seems smitten with the young woman and that opportunity opens the door for Joy to have a shot at her dream of getting the Miracle Mop on shelves all over the country.
Wow, wow, that invention did indeed change the scope of cleaning homes. Think about it, who wants to touch a mop with their hands after cleaning up a load of dirt. Mangano developed an object that allows people to clean without getting dirty; it’s pure genius.
I found the opening of the movie to be grandeur in scale, as it utilized the soap opera as a way of showcasing that things are not always as it seems. Joy at an early age got caught up in the melodrama that her mother, Terri portrayed by Virginia Madsen watched with intensity on a daily basis. Joy’s life is a whirlwind as an adult, she is the glue that keeps her family intact and having to live under a roof with her divorced parents, her ex-husband, her kids and her grandmother is a lot to drive any person insane, more to the point that it forces Joy to reach for the horizon.
Russell finds a way to mesmerize the audience with the dialogue, and the evolution of these characters in a short-time frame. I mean I went from being annoyed with Joy’s mother, to finding her beyond flawed because of her divorce. Hint: divorce is a theme that impacts not only Joy’s life, but all the people around her. Joy’s parents can’t stand the sight of each other, while Joy and her ex, Tony (Edgar Ramirez) do their best to raise their children while respecting one another.
Seeing this woman reflect on how all her dreams fell apart after as she got older, strikes the spectator at the heart. I literally stopped for a moment to reflect on my dreams and why I allowed my aspirations to be placed on hold because of family obligations, love and a load of other things.
“Joy” is a film that inspires at its core, which is something not always seen in cinema. Without a doubt, the marketing ploy that Joy and her best friend Jackie (Dascha Polanco) utilized to get people to pay attention was clever, but in the commerce arena competition is brutal at times. Joy is a testament to the fact that if you get knocked down you get right back up and fight again.
It is difficult to come with grips that the people who will knock your dream the most will be the people who love you the most, as in Joy’s case it is her oldest sister Peggy (Elisabeth Rohm) and her father Rudy. She does have a champion in her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) who has always fought for her granddaughter to dream big and to always chase after her dreams no matter what.
De Niro delivers a layered performance, one where the spectator is quite conflicted about how you feel about him. You love his character one moment, you hate him the next. Lawrence delivers a tour-de force performance that honestly should land her that third Oscar nomination in the Best Actress category. It’s quite revelatory to say the least, I mean Lawrence hasn’t even reached the age of 30 and is becoming the newest Meryl Streep of our generation.
“Joy” is a film that does precisely what it title states: it makes one feel happy, and inspires hope and above all it sends the message that any dream is possible. If you’re willing to fight for it, it will indeed come to fruition, it may not happen overnight, but when it does it will change your life.