Joy, directed by David O. Russell is a manic film that feels incoherent and at times a little heavy handed with its attempts and genuine emotion. A lack of strong or memorable characters and a cast of actors who at some points seemed to forget they were in a film with cameras recording them, left me drained and disappointed.
In the film we learn the story of Joy, played by Jennifer Lawrence, a divorced mother of two who is struggling to keep it together as her out of control family sucks up every free moment of time with inconveniences and job prospects that don’t invoke confidence. Joy decides to do what she was always told she could do best and that’s creating. So Joy invents a revolutionary design for the everyday mop and sets out to sell as much as she can, and build an empire that will rival the largest of companies.
I really struggled with this film. Everything in Joy felt disjointed and incoherent. Director David O. Russell presents a film that he himself seems to be unsure of how to properly get across. There are random and sudden tonal shifts, edits that within scenes that don’t match up and in general a sense that things got lost when the bigger picture was applied to it. I always felt like I was trying to catch up Joy. I never felt like I was fully in loop and it made for a very confusing and unenjoyable experience.
What also kept pushing me out of the experience of the film was O. Russell’s inability to bring genuine life into scenes. I sometimes felt like I was watching an off the wall comedy that would then turn into an intense drama without any warning or reasonable set up. The lack of consistency in Joy was bizarre. I felt like O. Russell had an idea of how the film should be, but he himself didn’t really understand how to properly present it. Joy is a film that not only missing elements, it also throws in ones that are unnecessary to the film itself.
It’s a shame because David O. Russell is a talented director, who has brought some wonderful films and performances to the big screen. In Joy though, that is not the case.
Speaking of performances, Joy is led by Jennifer Lawrence who certainly brings that reliable and strong performance that has come to be expected and enjoyed. Her ability to say so much with her face and not need to use words is a reason why a character like Joy would be good for her. The problem is that I never believed Jennifer Lawrence as that character. There were some moments when I did (mostly in the third act) but during the majority of the film I just couldn’t see her as the older, beat down women who has had the weight of the world (and more) baring down on her. I’m in two minds with this element of the film. While Jennifer Lawrence brings a worthy performance, she is ultimately miscast. O. Russell’s insistence on casting her in every film, and sometimes not always the right role (American Hustle) is something I think he’s going to need to move away from.
The rest of the cast is pretty forgettable. Robert De Niro appears in the film as Joy’s father and it this point it’s just depressing to watch him on screen. He’s barely there in terms of acting and I never once saw anything stand out from him. Bradley Cooper also appears in the film as Neil Walker, the well-spoken head of the QVC network. Surprisingly Cooper forgot to act in the film. There were many times where he would be on the screen doing a monologue but his face would be emotionless. He was almost statue like. This surprised me because Cooper is an actor who really commits to his roles and brings every ounce of good acting to a performance (especially in a David O. Russell film). Across the board it was pretty much a bland state of affairs when the supporting cast is considered.
There’s really not much left to say about Joy. The film felt so long – and I’ve just recently seen The Hateful Eight which is 3 hours long (full review for that here by the way) and even that felt like a cake walk compared to this. I suppose that just highlights how unenjoyable of a time this film was for me.
No I will not be recommending Joy. During this time there are a lot more stimulating and exciting film options out there and Joy is very much one you can pass on.
What were your thoughts on Joy? Sound off in the comments down below. To keep up with whatever else I’m saying, feel free to follow me on Twitter – @GavinsTurtle. Have a wonderful week.