Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro
Director: David O. Russell
Running Time: 124 mins
Joy is an American film about the true story of a woman who rises from living in chaos in a dilapidated house with members from all generations of her family, to inventing a genius product that enables her to launch her own successful business.
Let’s get straight to it, then. Joy is an interesting film, and follows a brilliant central character, but unfortunately just isn’t as compelling as you’d expect. I was impressed by Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, and the biographical story held my attention from start to finish, but beyond that, there wasn’t much in this film that really stood out.
I’m sounding a little harsh there, but it’s because I wasn’t particularly struck by this film when I know its director can do better.
However, there are definitely elements that were good here. Jennifer Lawrence puts in a very well-held performance to show how this woman developed over the course of her life, overcoming her initially difficult circumstances with her tough attitude to succeed in business. As a result, Joy is not only one of the most likeable characters played by Jennifer Lawrence, but also a very interesting person, because she’s not always nice and happy, she’s imperfect, and that makes her the most interesting part of the film.
In terms of the story, watching Joy develop is captivating, as is the story that revolves around her, although to a slightly lesser extent. I was interested in how she was having to find all these different avenues to promote her product, and the comedic elements occasionally (but not always) added some more enjoyability, but I still wasn’t truly engrossed, because the story about her family, which is still a large proportion of the film, just doesn’t grab your attention.
The problem with that part of the story is that it tries to show off the chaos of her family life, but doesn’t add any real drama to the plot. In comparison to David O. Russell’s brilliant Silver Linings Playbook, which successfully showed off a dysfunctional family and created huge drama around that, the strained relations in this film come off as more annoying and often dreary, without being at all dramatic, leaving it a bit all over the place.
As a result, there are large portions of this film that just aren’t that compelling, and that hurt my overall impression of the film in the end. Joy is an interesting film in general, with a great central performance, but it’s ultimately not the most impressive film you’ll see this year, owing to its poorly balanced story that regularly left me wanting more, and that’s why I’ll give this a 7.3.