Now that the forced merriment of Christmas and New Year is out of the way it is time to return to work and wonder how it is possible to have gained so much weight over the course of one fortnight. All of this can be a little miserable so why not inject your life with a little bit of Joy? David O Russell’s latest film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper is the story of Joy Mangano, the QVC host who invented the Miracle Cop back in the early 1990’s.
If Joy Mangano seems an odd choice for a biopic of sorts then that’s because she is, however O Russell has found enough in Joy’s back story to make this a compelling and enjoyable film, if not one that is a little bizarre and uneven.
When we first meet Joy she is a divorced woman raising her two children, whilst also paying her mortgage, looking after her socially anxious Mother and putting up with her ex-husband and her cantankerous father who both live in her basement. In short Joy is a very put upon woman- she had her dreams of being an inventor one day but they had to be put on hold because of everything else in her life- she has sacrificed everything her whole life to keep others happy and now she is in a rut.
That is until she cuts her hand mopping, an event which inspires her to begin inventing what is now known as the Miracle Mop. This sends her on a roller coaster ride of success and failures, with us an audience taken along for the ride.
Russell’s film is an odd one. It is tonally uncertain throughout, changing the mood of the movie at the drop of the hat, seemingly for no reason- it begins as something of a screwball family comedy- with Robert De Niro earning the most laughs he has done in years- then it becomes a tale of empowered woman and never giving up on your dreams, before transforming into slightly overly sentimental slush and then turning full drama in it’s final moments. It’s a bizarre movie but it is perhaps the movie’s tonal flaws that make it all the more fun- because of the film’s constant changing rhythms it never becomes tiresome and it all just begins to add to the infectious chaos of it all.
The film is not likely to be earning as much critical attention as O Russell’s last two outings- Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, due to having received something of a lukewarm reception- however Lawrence should be a shoe in for a Best Actress nomination. The actress wears the trousers through out the movie and continues to shine when working with Russell. Bradley Cooper is good fun as NVQ boss Neil Walker but expect his streak of nominations to end this year.
Joy is far from conventional, it’s a screwball comedy/drama about a lady who invented kitchen appliances- what did you expect? Strap your belt and go along for the ride and you will find there is plenty of joy to be had here.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐