On This Day: Joy (2015)
First up Leon Nicholson takes a look at Joy which received a general release in the UK on January 1st 2016, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper.
Based very loosely on Joy Mangano’s life, Joy tells the story of her humble beginnings and the struggles she faced as a divorcee and working mother trying to make ends meet. The promise and talent she showed in younger life has been stagnated and life hasn’t turned out quite how she expected. Her mother Terri (Virginia Madsen) and grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) lives with her whilst the ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez) resides in Joy’s basement. When one takes into account that her father Rudy (Robert de Niro) has to share with Tony (as they hate each other) and her half-sister Peggy (Elisabeth Rohm) constantly puts her down, this is a great example of a dysfunctional family.
For whatever reason, Joy’s family take advantage of her one way or the other but that is probably due to her kind, caring nature. Despite doing what is right for the family its clear she feels imprisoned, unable to pursue her hopes and dreams. One day a flash of inspiration hits her like a thunderbolt and it leads her to invent a self-wringing mop. From here Joy’s journey is a rollercoaster as she begins to see the true colours of the people around her.
Jennifer Lawrence puts in a strong performance as Joy and even though she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, she’s not the outstanding performer. Whilst the legendary Robert De Niro is solid and Bradley Cooper in his smallish role is decent, it’s actually Virginia Madsen as Terri who is stand-out as her character uses crappy US Soap Operas as a means to escape her depressive life. Should the Academy have awarded Madsen a nomination? Maybe…
David O Russell’s direction is standard as one would expect from the director of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. He acquires overall strong performances from the cast but some of the content and styling will certainly end up as an acquired taste. The best factor however about Joy is the wonderful toe-tapping soundtrack that includes music from Elvis Presley, The Bee Gees and The Rolling Stones which will hold the viewer’s attention if, by any chance, the mind begins to wander.
Joy is not a masterpiece – far from it in fact – but it’s certainly an intriguing and entertaining movie and at a running time of 124 minutes there are worse things to do in this time.
FMV Rating ***½