Saturday, December 26, 2015

Released December 25th, 2015
2 hr 4 mins
Rated PG-13
Comedy, Drama


Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell

Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano
Isabella Crovetti-Cramp as young Joy
Robert De Niro as Rudy Mangano
Bradley Cooper as Neil Walker
Édgar Ramírez as Tony Miranda
Diane Ladd as Mimi
Virginia Madsen as Terry Mangano
Isabella Rossellini as Trudy
Elisabeth Röhm as Peggy Mangano
Madison Wolfe as young Peggy
Dascha Polanco as Jackie
Emily Nunez as young Jackie
Melissa Rivers as Joan Rivers
Donna Mills as Priscilla
Susan Lucci as Danica
Maurice Benard as Jared
Laura Wright as Clarinda
Alexander Cook as Bartholomew
Jimmy Jean-Louis as Touissant
Drena De Niro as Cindy

Review by Mister Goodfella's Reviews

David O Russel is back and brings us some holiday cheer in a nice follow up to his last film "American Hustle". "Joy" is by far one of my least favorite David O Russel films however when you boil it down to the last few fantastic film Russel has made, it's his "Jackie Brown".  What I mean by my previous statement is that this film is fantastic, but in terms of a good follow up or even in terms of showing style "Joy" plays it safe. Aside from the pressure of following up well behind two other academy award nominated films, "Joy" does thrill you with a very courageous story that sell leaves us wondering how Russel is capable of elevating these topics. I felt as though "Joy" had more of a blander style and story than what I'm used to from David O Russel however, the performance given by Jennifer Lawrence really carries this film. 

    "Joy" is the story of a woman's fall and rise to success in a family created business across four generations. Jennifer Lawrence reprises yet again in David O Russell’s latest work, leading an ensemble cast consisting of more Russell regulars like Robert Deniro, Bradley Cooper, Virginia Madsen, Edgar Ramirez, and Isabella Rossellini. I've always been fond of Jennifer Lawrence's acting range and always knew from the moment I saw her emerge in Debra Granik 's "Winters Bone", she had huge potential. Many don't agree that Jennifer deserved her "Oscar" for David O Russell’s previous film "Silver Linings Playbook", however its not just her performance in the film but rather how she embodies her character onscreen so much so we can't remember who the real Jennifer Lawrence is. "Joy" is definitely another role in which Jennifer Lawrence once again proves that she can embody even the most random characters and make them shine like diamonds. 

     Within the first 10 minute of "Joy" I knew that this wasn't going to be told generically, instead we feel as though we are watching the most dysfunctional family in America onscreen. Virginia Madsen gave a great transformative performance although her screen time was very short, but the chemistry between a mother in fear of the outside world and her over worked daughter feels so natural thanks to her. As we watch "Joy" we wonder how a family like this doesn't go nuts and kill each other or better yet how Joy herself doesn't just jump in front of traffic, but it's the teamwork of all cast members who make "Joy" bearable to watch. I admit going into this film I had heard very mixed things, people either walked away very happy or not happy at all but fortunately I had the pleasure of leaving happy. David O Russell made a serious comeback to filmmaking a few years back with his phenomenal film "The Fighter", and he only continues to tell us with his films that he has something to say. 

    I've always perceive film making as an art and when you step back with each directors filmography and dissect their films, they either all embody a specific way that person sees the world or you're just watching a brilliant person that just wanted to make a movie.  Russell in this case is a director who sees the world of today as if it had a backdrop of the 70's and 80's. Russell makes "Joy" as flashy as he thought it needed to be with very moderate costume designs and sets.  However for me he could have went further. As previously stated "Joy" is one of Russell’s tamest stories yet, and for me the screenplay just wasn't as strong as it needed to be. You examine David O Russell’s other work and screenplay's and you see he doesn't hold back, but for some reason the story of "Joy" maybe didn't blend with his style. It was very refreshing to see Isabella Rossellini onscreen as well, delivering some powerful lines and granting her character a title of "Short And Sweet". 

    The style in directing was very tame and I wouldn't be so quick as to call this "American Hustle 2". The angles and cinematography again just play it safe but for some reason I still can't help but love "Joy". There’s some charm that stays with you after watching "Joy" that I don't feel as often after seeing a biography drama. I'm usually left with a very dark tone or a tone that I have to just run with because the film is trying to stay factual to the actual events. All in all I recommend "Joy" to be a great way to spend 2 hours though don't be surprised if you come out unsettled, you'll either adore David O Russell’s "Joy" or you'll just walk away.

Rating: 3 Out Of 4

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