Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Virginia Madsen
It pains me to say this, but this movie about a mop is kind of a flop. It looks like this one had its eyes on an Oscar, but forgot to make an interesting movie in the process.
Joy (Lawrence) is in such a rut that she’s making her name ironic. A fact that was spoon-fed to us early in the movie when a patron at the airport tells the stone-faced mother of two, “You’re not very joyful.” Thanks Russell, we didn’t make that connection. Anyway, Joy was always destined for something greater in life, at least according to her grandmother who temporarily and occasionally serves as the narrator. At a young age, Joy was building worlds with her hands. She had the inventor’s spirit that was ahead of her time, especially considering that her gender socially condemns her to a life spent chasing a prince. After her parent’s bitter divorce, Joy loses her entrepreneurial fortitude, gets married and quickly divorced to a charismatic Latin singer (Ramirez), and has two kids. Meanwhile, most of her feisty family is living under her barely held together roof. Her mother (Madsen) is obsessed with soap operas and the men in her life are freeloaders who are condemned to the basement. Joy is unhappy with the route her life has taken. However, all of that changes when she climbs aboard her father’s new love interest’s boat, spills some red wine, and gets cut trying to mop up the mess. Thus sparks her determination to market and sell a miraculous mop that will keep matriarchs, such as herself, able to maintain their home sans injury.
I’m not a Russell snob, American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter… I’m on board. But let’s not pull a Burton/Depp here. I’m all for those magical director-actor relationships but you’re going to make us weary. This is especially true when Cooper shows up in the movie seemingly so he doesn’t feel left out. A feminist ideology peeks out every now and then within the movie. The example Joy is setting for her daughter is particularly interesting. However, the shine is only on the kitchen floor and never really removes the dust from the cracks. The patron at the airport would tell me the same thing when I left the theater—“You’re not very joyful.”