Friday, December 25, 2015

[Review] Joy

Director David O. Russell has been on a hot streak with interpersonal relationship dramas/comedies, whether they involved fighting (The Fighter), dancing (Silver Linings Playbook) or hustling (American Hustle). Joy contains each of those, yet it falls short of the greatness of all of those films, despite containing another tour-de-force Jennifer Lawrence performance.

Joy (Lawrence) is an aspiring inventor, saleswoman, and future company owner. Her father is played by an ornery Robert De Niro, and her ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez) lives in her basement. While The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle all had memorable openings, the beginning of Joy is just basic flashbacks with narrated backstory. Eventually, with some help from investor Bradley Cooper, Joy attempts to get her Miracle Mop business off the ground.

There's obviously a great list of actors here, but if you've seen Russell's aforementioned last three films, it finally feels like an overload of reoccurring cast here. And it's actually about 30 or 40 minutes before the film forms a direction for its plot. Early on, the frenzied editing from scene to scene is more off-putting than spunky and energetic. The bright spots, aside from J-Law's constant voracity, are the film's ideas about commerce, as well as turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Dascha Polanco (a favorite from "Orange Is the New Black") also makes an appearance as Joy's best friend.

Maybe Joy is a victim of Russell's immensely successful previous efforts, and unable to escape comparisons to them. But even on its own merit, there are just too many questionable artistic choices in it to warrant praise, and the narrative frankly lacks much investment or interest.


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