Build a better mousetrap...
Hoyts Melbourne Central - Saturday 26 December 2015, 12:15pm
Running time: 124m
Country: United States
Classification: M (Infrequent coarse language)
Release date: 26/12/15
Cost: $11 (Optus Perks)
Rating: 5.5/10 (2.5/5 ME, 3/5 DP)
Joy (Isabella Crovetti-Cramp) is a creative young girl who, following the breakdown of her parents' marriage, grows to become defeated Joy (Jennifer Lawrence), a woman with big dreams, a big mortgage and an ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez) lurking in the basement. Joy’s father Rudy (Robert De Niro) has been dumped by his latest girlfriend and moves back in with Joy, but when he takes up with Trudy (Isabella Rossellini), the widow of a successful businessman, Joy not only has the inspiration but the financial means to turn her life around. But it will take more than a good idea to bring about the change that they all need.
Joy is a comedy/drama from David O Russell, director of American Hustle. Despite the bleakness of the situation, there is a sense of optimism that permeates the film. Joy’s mother Terry (Virginia Madsen) lives in her bedroom and numbs the sadness of her hopelessness by immersing herself in soap operas, and the soap opera scenes (featuring soap opera royalty Susan Lucci and Donna Mills) are light and bubbly though deeply poignant. Joy’s story is told by her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) and is presented as a story inspired by the events of strong women, but her narration (and even the presence of the character) is an unnecessary addition to the film which, though charming, slows the film down. And slow is Joy’s biggest downfall. It’s an entertaining yarn and makes some interesting (though obvious) points, but it’s a slow burn that takes a long time to get going before working its way towards a satisfying though predictable conclusion.
Bradley Cooper as home shopping network executive Neil delivers a performance with conviction though the character lacks soul. The man can act, but unfortunately his skills aren’t really shown off here. Isabella Rossellini and Robert De Niro had great chemistry on screen and some of the best dialogue. Jennifer Lawrence shows there’s much more to her than Katniss Everdeen and her performance moves seamlessly between the passion and restraint required to bring Joy to life. But despite the strength of the performances, it’s a story which needed some serious editing to make it more engaging. It should do well during awards season and embraces the best and worst of the American dream, but the slow pace and lack of subtlety hints at a film that could’ve been much better. (ME)
NOTE: look out for a special cameo appearance by Melissa Rivers as her late mother Joan.
73rd Golden Globe Awards