Joy is a good, inspiring movie, filled with lots of heart and genuine emotion, about something honest and real and tangible, featuring the radiant Jennifer Lawrence in a sensational movie-star performance that easily cements her as THE hottest (both in terms of looks and acting ability) actress of the moment. Seriously…name me one other actress her age who can command the screen in the same exact fashion as she does – you can’t because there is nobody else doing this sort of thing. She’s the total package, and it’s abundantly clear that writer/director David O. Russell has found his muse. I’ve been a huge fan of Russell’s work since the beginning of his career; Three Kings, Flirting with Disaster, I Heart Huckabees, and Silver Linings Playbook are all great pieces of cinema. And if Joy feels relatively small or slight in comparison, it’s only because the narrative feels a bit more traditional in its scope, but when looked at up close, there’s plenty to chew on. Reteaming yet again with Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, Russell has assembled a sterling supporting cast which also includes Isabella Rossellini, Diane Ladd, Edgar Ramirez, and Virginia Madsen, all of whom get a chance for some major scene stealing.
Russell again demonstrates his affinity and inherent understanding of the complexities of the dysfunctional home front and fractured family unit, with his cinematography (this time handled by Linus Sandgren) and editing (Jay Cassidy, Tim Cross, Alan Baumgarten, and Christopher Tellefsen were the cutters) neatly complimenting each other; the images have a simple and effective beauty to them while the editing is traditionally frantic yet coherent per Russell’s manic standards. Sandgren’s use of the close-up, especially with Lawrence, was very smart, as it helped to get into the character’s psyche, while offering the viewer a glimpse into her soul, not to mention her face, which the camera lovingly surveys and studies. Lawrence is a force of nature here, in almost every scene, serious one moment and funny the next, always sexy, always confident yet still somewhat vulnerable; it’s a big and juicy part that any actress would kill to get and she just owns this movie from top to bottom. De Niro gets some hearty laughs, and it was a treat to see the odd yet important relationship between Lawrence and Ramirez take shape. And here I haven’t said anything about the plot! Nominally a sort-of-biopic about the woman responsible for the Miracle Mop and the rise of QVC, Joy is above all else a story about perseverance and believing in yourself no matter the odds. Some people just don’t quit, and in Joy, Lawrence gets one of her most unique and thoughtful roles to date, portraying a strong and independent woman who isn’t interested in hearing the word no unless she’s the one saying it.
Written by Nick Clement