Joy, written and directed by David O Russell, is the semi-fictional story of a woman who invented a mop and after successfully selling it on QVC, went on to start a powerful business.
The synopsis is not the most exciting prospect for a film, and I feel the promoters of the film have deliberately kept any trailers ambiguous to stop people from thinking ‘A film about someone inventing a mop? Really?’. This was probably a good idea. The film has a strong cast, Jennifer Lawrence as the lead (very strong), Bradley Cooper (his part didn’t give him much to do) and Robert DeNiro (likewise).
The film seemed to be about being a strong, capable woman, never giving up on your dreams and being determined. Joy, despite having quite a dysfunctional family who all expect her to do everything for them (I felt so grateful for my loving, encouraging, ‘normal’ family while watching) decides to take a huge financial risk in order to follow her dream of inventing a product. She is the head of her business and her family, they all turn to her in order to know what to do. The character of Joy is definitely strong, however her mother seemed to fall into the trap of being one kind of female stereotype. After her divorce, Joy’s mother is mainly bedridden and is obsessed with soap operas, watching them constantly and being quite neurotic. Was this deliberate, so that the audience compares her with Joy? I’m not sure. Joy’s grandmother, who narrates the story, encourages her endeavours and tells her she’ll be a matriarch, but her character isn’t really developed at all. In fact, Joy is the only developed character, there are numerous supporting roles but they aren’t anything to write home about.
I’m not really sure what the message of the film is, if it has one, and I don’t know how I feel about it. Did I enjoy watching it? Yes, but I don’t think I’ll ever want to watch it again. I didn’t feel particularly inspired after watching it, more annoyed with Joy’s family for not helping her in an effective way. Jennifer Lawrence is excellent, but I expect nothing less from her. There were some funny moments, but they were few and far between. If I were you I’d wait until it’s on television.