Review: Joy

By adamatdramatrain
13 Jan 16

Take away the cast of JOY and you’d have a pancake minus the syrup, fruit and cream – a pretty bland concoction. Surprising, because this is directed by David O. Russell. I loved Three Kings and The Fighter, enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook, and even got into American Hustle on the second viewing. Solid movies all, with great casts. In Joy, Russell reunites with De Niro, here playing Jennifer Lawrence’s dad, as well as the likes of Bradley Cooper and a top notch supporting cast, including Isabella Rossellini and Virginia Madsen. Like I said, the cast shine, especially Lawrence in the titular role as the no-nonsense, independent Joy. But the film’s moral is rammed down our throat from the get go, with words on screen even telling us that this is a movie about strong women, and an annoying and frustratingly redundant voiceover from Joy’s grandma that is at times about as subtle a storytelling device as putting a white hat on a good Sherriff and a black hat on a baddie. Russell’s lightness of touch as a storyteller and his ease at coaxing great comedic, yet grounded, performances saves the day and, whilst Joy really is a joy to watch, I came out afterwards like a man waking from a dream. I remember it was nice but could barely recall a thing about it, save for a lovely scene between De Niro and his ex-wife, Joy’s mother, when he’s forced to return to live in the family home, along with Joy and her ex-husband. It’s a film of performance pleasures. Great scenes sprinkled here and there, with some melodramatic dialogue better suited to the soap-opera on Joy’s mum’s TV. The script feels decidedly undeveloped, with a heavy-handed moralizing that, for all its “women are great” sermonizing, fails to truly engage or inspire. That said, it really was an enjoyable movie. Jennifer Lawrence was great. De Niro too. I just wish it was more than a fading dream barely recalled on waking from my cinematic slumber…