Not much Joy in this Jennifer Lawrence flick [Review]

By Melanie Leung
By Melanie Leung |

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Despite its star-studded line-up, if it didn’t feature Jennifer Lawrence, Joy would have been a flop.

In his third collaboration with Lawrence, director David O. Russell tells the story of Joy Mangano, a single mother-turned-business magnate who invented the self-wringing Miracle Mop.

Joy was top of the class at school, but life took a downturn when her parents divorced and she stayed at home to look after her mum (Virginia Madsen), who stays in bed all day watching soap operas. She marries, then divorces, a Tom Jones wannabe (Edgar Ramirez), who still lives in her flat after their split.

When she gets the idea for the mop, she gets little support from her family. Her father (Robert De Niro) is reluctant to ask his rich new girlfriend (Isabella Rossellini) for help, and her half-sister Peggy (Elisabeth Röhm) gets jealous. but her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) encourages her to keep believing in her product.

This mix of characters makes for a very interesting family dynamic, and for some touching moments that are at the same time hilarious, awkward and bitter – typical of everyday interactions in a family. It is here that the film is most enjoyable.

Otherwise, the film is as choppy as Joy’s road to success. Narrated by Mimi, interspersed with flashbacks, soap opera scenes and abstract dream sequences, the storytelling is confusing and distracting.

Character development is also weak. Joy’s inventiveness as a child is only demonstrated by her playing with paper models she made herself; and the sudden change of attitude of home shopping channel executive Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper) towards Joy’s mop is unconvincing.

But if you’re going to the cinema to see another decent performance by Lawrence, you won’t be disappointed.