The cinematic dream team that is Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert Di Niro (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) are back with David O. Russell’s newest dysfunctional family drama: Joy. Joy is the wild story of a family across four generations. Centered on the childhood dream of becoming an inventor, Joy Mangano (Lawrence) a single mother, struggles to keep her imagination alive among her chaotic life. The film is an emotional, human comedy about becoming a true boss of family and business within the male dominated world of commerce.
Lawrence reprises her role as the leading lady, playing the film’s namesake, Joy. Her story is one of homegrown success, but it’s an uphill battle. Joy has been dealt a particularly tough hand at life and seems to be the single, relatively stable centre point of her entire family leaving her dreams and aspirations on the back burner. Her strange assortment of family members, who have all ‘temporarily’ taken up refuge in her house are the reason for her lack of success thus far in her life. Despite this she’s completely loyal, generous, tenacious and eventually, incredibly successful in her own right.
Di Niro plays Joy’s father, a serial monogamist who sporadically resides in her basement. The only genuine support he gives Joy with her new venture is inadvertently introducing her to his new girlfriend, who financially backs Joy’s invention. Her mother (Virginia Masden) is a glazed version of her former self, lives in Joy’s spare room, and is constantly glued to a ridiculous 90’s Soap Opera. Sharing the basement with her father is her ex- husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez), who never moved out despite their divorce two years ago. The story is narrated by Joy’s grandmother (Diane Ladd) who is her biggest and only supportive family member.
We’re not introduced to Cooper’s character until part-way through the film and following all her struggles, he is seen to be Joy’s savior. He is the straight-talking TV executive that gives her and her product, the Miracle Mop, their first big break on the Home Shopping Network no less. Almost as quickly as he is introduced, however, he too lets her down. It’s at this point, where Joy learns that in order to achieve the success she craves, she must only rely on herself.
Joy is a film about money and power but also the importance of self-worth. Whilst the film is uplifting and speaks an important message of hard work and perseverance, it falters in the delivery. Lawrence, much like her character, is solely relied upon in propelling the narrative and maintaining the focus amongst the chaos.
Words by Maddie Vlismas | Images courtesy of 20th Century Fox