Joy (2015)

Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell
Based on: Joy Mangano‘s life (roughly)
Cast: Jennifer LawrenceEdgar RamirezRobert De NiroDascha PolancoVirginia Madsen, Elisabeth RöhmIsabella RosselliniBradley CooperDiane Ladd
Seen on: 10.1.2016

Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her agoraphobic mother Terry (Virginia Madsen), her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd), her ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez), and her two children in a small house that just become smaller as her father Rudy (Robert De Niro) also moves in after separating from his most recent girlfriend. Joy does her best to keep everything together. All of that could have been enoudh for anyone, but when Joy has an idea for a new product, she is willing to chase the dream of actually producing it, hoping to make a better life for herself and her family.

Joy was nice enough, but it didn’t blow me away. While there were many things to like about it, there was also some weird stuff, not the least of which was the decision to cast Jennifer Lawrence.


I don’t know much about Joy Mangano, so I can’t really say whether the film is accurate about her life (from what I gather it’s not terribly faithful, nor did it mean to be). But in any case I was a little weirded out by the framing of the story that is so much about Rudy and Joy’s relationship with him. I thought that every other relationship in the film would have been more interesting to examine. I especially liked Joy’s relationship with Tony, it was such a fresh take on a divorced couple. And I wouldn’t have minded seeing an entire film about Terry. But the one underexamined relationship that hurt the film the most was Joy’s relationship with her half-sister Peggy (Elisabeth Röhm).

Regardless of what relationship you put the focus on, Jennifer Lawrence was the wrong choice for the role. I do like her and she’s an excellent actress but she is simply much too young and fresh to play this role. Especially since we’re supposed to see her age and it just doesn’t really happen.


Despite those misgivings, I did enjoy myself throughout the film. I liked the whimsical take on the characters and the nice pacing. Sometimes the film makes light of things that could have been taken more seriously, but most of the time, it hits a nice balanced tone.

It is a slightly wasted opportunity because it could have been a great film about an unusual woman, instead it’s a good film about a mostly conventional self-made woman story. If it had been told by anyone other than a white man, we may have gotten it.


Summarizing: It’s nice enough.

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