Having previously worked on incredible films such as Silver Lining's Playbook and American Hustle, director David O'Russell reteams with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper for their third project together, Joy. However, can the trio rocket to success yet again? Here's my review of the film.

The biopic of Joy Mangano follows our eponymous leading lady, played by Jennifer Lawrence, across four generations of her life. Based on her true success story, we open to see her as a child, bursting with ideas and creativity, passionate to change the world with her talent and make her name as a successful, strong woman. However, skip ahead a couple of decades and she is a divorced, struggling mother of two, with her ex-husband living in her basement and a typical day-job at the airport. Tired of fighting so hard to support her children, her mother, her grandmother, her father and herself, she decides to let her creativity run free again and invents the Miracle Mop. Struggling to kick off, Joy goes to all ends to try and make her invention known but her journey to success isn't easy and betrayal, treachery and deceit all entangle themselves into things. It's, quite simply, a rags to riches story of how inspiration led Joy to becoming a business dynasty and matriarch.
Given the source material and the incredible success story of the real Joy Mangano, with an adapted script written and directed by David O'Russell, reuniting him with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper for their third collaboration, this ticked all the right boxes to be something truly special and a film to look out for. And whilst it's not ground-breaking or a masterpiece, Joy is still a pretty good, solid and entertaining film, nonetheless. For starters, the premise is emotional and poignant and inspiring. The story of a woman who had nothing but fought for her dreams and rose to become a billionaire is inspiring and shows that anything can be achieved if you set your mind to it and work hard for it. The execution of this was done well too, for the most part. The film does drag a little towards the start, taking too long in establishing the story and getting the ball rolling. However, once things do start moving, the film is compelling and the story is engaging enough to keep you intrigued and engaged throughout. Although, contrary to how Joy took too long to start, the ending feels very rushed and O'Russell tries to conclude the story too quickly.

But, aside from some pacing issues towards the beginning and the end of the film, Joy is entertaining. The dialogue is very well-written and captivating and the character of Joy is so incredibly nuanced and brilliant. We really empathise with her and her struggle and we're always rooting for her to succeed and do well because of how much we care for her. It's a testament to the strong character O'Russell has portrayed here and also to the stellar performance from Jennifer Lawrence. As always, as expected, she kills it. She brings a lot of heart and charisma to the character and does the real-life Joy Mangano justice, capturing her fighting spirit and her determination and will to succeed brilliantly. The audience really gets a feel for her motivation and we want to see her succeed. You believe Lawrence's passion and her drive and she brings a lot of nuance to Joy, making her yet another strong female character in cinema. There has been talk for some time now about Lawrence getting some Awards recognition with her performance in this and it's evident why, because she delivers a truly stunning performance and one deserved of some nominations.
However, whilst Lawrence crushes it as the likable and lovable Joy, the same can't be said for the other characters. There are a lot of supporting figures around Joy - from her family to her friends to her ex-husband to her business partners. It's a very crowded picture but, where it falters is, aside from our eponymous lead, we simply do not care for any of the other characters. Her family, in the film, are extremely unlikeable. I understand that they're against Joy, constantly criticising her and stealing her ideas, but, at the same time, I don't think that's reason for them to be such bland, unlikeable people. Even Bradley Cooper's Neil Walker, who tries to help Joy, comes off as pretentious and annoying. The film is titled Joy and I get that were supposed to root for her (which we do) but I also don't think we're supposed to hate every other character on-screen. As far as the performances go though, everyone else is fine. Robert DeNiro gives your typical DeNiro performance; Edgar Ramirez is a silver lining as Joy's ex-husband and best friend Tony and Cooper is good in his role too. The acting is fine overall but the characters are just unlikeable and annoying and, when you have a film full of characters but only invest in one - regardless of if they're the central character or not - that's never a good thing.

In the end though, Joy is still a good film. There are some pacing issues and the film drags for a while to begin with but the premise is compelling and inspiring, nonetheless. This is a very profound and more subdued film than we're used to from O'Russell but, at the same time, it's very accomplished and emotional too. The character of Joy is so nuanced and fascinating and her will to continue fighting is inspiring and motivating and Lawrence is astoundingly good in the role. The cinematography is impressive too, as is the score. O'Russell's direction is elegant and he does a competent job at telling this success story, but this is more style than substance and, ultimately, that's what holds the film back from reaching its full potential of being truly great.

VERDICT:
Joy is, as the title quite simply puts it, a real joy to watch. O'Russell's latest doesn't hold up as well as some of his other projects but this is a stylish, subdued and profound film, nonetheless, with a killer performance from Jennifer Lawrence as our eponymous lead.

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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