Joy (2015)

Joy
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

Plot:
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.

joy

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American Hustle (2013)

American Hustle
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell, Eric Warren Singer
Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K., Jack Huston, Michael Peña, Shea WhighamAlessandro Nivola, Saïd Taghmaoui

Plot:
Irving (Christian Bale) is a con man who finds a new partner in all things in Sydney (Amy Adams), despite being married to Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence). But then police man Richie (Bradley Cooper) catches them in the act and decides to use them to convict the mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) of corruption. But things keep on spiraling out of control.

I can imagine that American Hustle would have been a good film if somebody other than David O. Russell had made it. Or if Russell had found a consistent tone in which to tell his story. But as is the movie was just a mess.

american-hustle

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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell
Based on: Matthew Quick‘s novel
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, John Ortiz, Julia Stiles, Shea Whigham

Plot:
Pat (Bradley Cooper) was just released from a psychiatric hospital where he got committed after a violent episode and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. His mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) takes him home, where his fahter Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) carefully tries to reconnect with him. Pat is obsessed with winning his ex-wife Nikki back. So when he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the sister of his best friend’s (John Ortiz) wife (Julia Stiles) who is still in touch with Nikki, all Pat sees in Tiffany is another chance to contact Nikki. But Tiffany who is just getting over her husband’s death brings her own set of problems. Among them a dance competition she doesn’t have a partner for. So she and Pat come up with a deal: Pat dances with her and Tiffany will deliver a message to Nikki.

On the surface, Silver Linings Playbook is pretty much your standard RomCom. But underneath that, it’s one of the most realistic and smartest films about mental illness Hollywood ever produced. I loved it.

silver-linings-playbook

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The Fighter (2010)

The Fighter is the newest film by David O. Russell, starring Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo.

Plot:
Micky (Mark Wahlberg) has always stood in the shadow of his older brother Dicky (Christian Bale) who has seen his heyday as a boxer 15 years previously and has since descended into drug addiction. Micky is a boxer himself, but he struggles with it and is much defeated. It’s only when Dicky goes to prison and Micky finds his new girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams) that Micky comes into his own.

The Fighter has an exceptional cast and a fine story, but it drags a bit and I don’t think I have enough love for boxing to really be able to appreciate this film. [And when I say I don’t have enough love for boxing, I mean that I don’t get boxing. At all. I don’t get how you can do it and I get much less why you would want somebody you love to do it.] It remained a little stale.

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