A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: David O. Russell
Produced By: John Davis, Megan Ellison, Jonathan Gordon
Written By: David O. Russell
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper
Running Time: 124 Minutes
The works of David O. Russell have proved divisive over the years, particularly through his collaborations with Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper. His last film American Hustle, was one that many liked but few loved, with some not caring for it one iota.
Back again in the festive season of 2015, O. Russell and his tenacious trio of talent return for Joy, the biopic of a defiant young woman of the same name (Jennifer Lawrence) who rose to become an incredibly successful businesswoman against various obstacles that stood in her way.
Where American Hustle evenly divided audiences and sparked in-depth debate, it appears as if Joy will split audiences yet again, however those emerging from the film with a satisfied smile on their face will very much make up the minority.
A film with the label of biopic is an inherently more appealing product to some. Cinematic retellings of famous or unknown true stories often make for compelling, more relatable and astonishing viewing.
The biopic is cinema’s answer to documentary. It has the freedom to tweak, exaggerate or omit information for the betterment of the narrative unlike documentary film making which captures life in its most natural form.
When watching Joy, it’s difficult not to feel as if it could’ve been more thoughtfully structured from the beginning. Jumbled, misguided and superfluous, the setup for the film takes far too long, so much so that you are unable to grasp exactly what the film is about. When it begins to pick up steam, the central narrative is rather uninteresting and dull.
What could have been a genuinely fascinating story of one woman’s painful struggle to make something of herself is tarnished by scattered plot points, needless scenes of exposition that lead to nothing and a mismatched style that ultimately confuses and disappoints.
One of the more praiseworthy aspects within Joy is arguably the most irritating aspect of the entire film. To put it lightly, Joy’s dysfunctional family epitomise insufferableness and intolerability.
Whining, demanding and selfish, Joy looks after a family of infant children better known as her mother, father, ex-husband, sister and daughter.
As infuriating as they are to watch, that’s precisely the point. Joy’s issues begin within the confines of her own home, with her kin. Driving her to near insanity, Joy’s tolerance is inspiring. Watching her painful family demand, lecture and whinge makes for some stressful viewing, but as far as unique and diverse character building is concerned, the film nails it.
It should also be noted that Jennifer Lawrence superbly carries the picture single handedly. The supporting cast, albeit loud, obnoxious and blood curdling are all forgettable in their own way, even Cooper and De Niro.
Lawrence is the only face to emerge on the other side of the picture with something to remember and discuss.
Her performance is substantial and rounded as is the journey of Joy, making it one of few redeeming qualities regarding writing and embodiment of character.
There are moments within this rags-to-riches tale of persistence and inspirational bravery that bring a smile to ones face, however being few and far between, what is predominately presented is a barrage of overlong dullness that is highly likely to make you curious about how much time has transpired when watching, which is never a good thing…
There is a lot of potential within the story of Joy, however as far as it translating to the big screen for a two-hour feature, that’s another story.
All the beats and tropes are there, however it all seems as if it could have been covered in depth over a time period half as long.
O. Russell’s latest is not a holiday classic, however the story of the persistent everywoman turned grand matriarch has its moments of excitement.
A comparative misstep for the third outing of O. Russell and his disciples, Joy unfortunately lacks the special ingredient that draws an audience to the central story. A lulling affair with the occasional pop of brief emotional resonance, this is one you can look beyond.
Sadly for O. Russell, Lawrence, De Niro and Cooper, the third time isn’t necessarily the charm.