Review: “Joy” is an inspiration and hands down the best David O’ Russell film to date.
There have been a lot of incredible marketing campaigns this year in film. While not all those marketing campaigns lead to success *cough* Tomorrowland *cough*, I think its quite remarkable that several studios have decided to use trailers once again to intrigue audiences rather than give away the entire film. With that being said, after seeing multiple trailers and televisions spots for JOY, I walked into the theater not knowing what to expect from it which I do believe added a whole another layer to my enjoyment of the film as a whole.
Joy is a simple yet complex little film. The story on the surface is incredibly simplistic yet the script by David O. Russell asks audiences to look at the character of Joy in various roles making this a very complex character study. The story at first seems to be about this woman trying to keep her life together while being the one that everyone in her family constantly depends on. She struggles each and every day trying to do the best she can while never achieving her true potential.
Jennifer Lawrence, who I have always admired but felt was a tad overrated, has never been better than she is as Joy. Lawrence embraces the character and really showcases a real, raw, and powerful performance. We see Joy as a daughter, mother, wife, friend, and business woman. She is woman and you will hear her roar. Lawrence gives it her all and you can honestly feel the passion coming from her almost every moment she is on-screen. She owns this role and this is without a doubt the best performance of her career thus far.
What makes the character of Joy so complex is not only that we as audiences see her in all these different roles but rather the fact that she is a flawed and real person. Joy doesn’t always make the right decisions and she often struggles with what she should and shouldn’t do. Joy has spent a lot of her life listening to others rather than believing in herself and doing what she wants to do. For all these reasons combined, I think Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Joy is an inspiration to women everywhere. This is a real look at the struggles in life and how there will always be people who don’t believe in you or tell you that what you are doing is stupid. This is such a refreshing and honest look at life especially since it is from a female perspective.
Alongside Lawrence, you have a great supporting cast that includes Robert De Niro, Virginia Madsen, Edgar Ramirez, among several others. While I will say that this is without a doubt the J-Law show; these actors all bring their A-game but just deliver it in smaller doses. Each of these actors play a role in Joy’s life that has shaped her as the woman she becomes throughout this story. Some of these characters play positive roles in her life while others play more negative ones. I think this makes the story and the character even more believable because it is not this Hollywood vision but rather a true life representation.
It needs to be pointed out that Joy is a rare film not only because of the way that it represents its female lead but also that it never panders to the audience in becoming a love story. That’s not saying that there isn’t some romance in Joy but instead of it being shown as this cutesy love story, it is instead shown as part of the character’s journey in life. Several men play roles in Joy’s life, however, Joy never relies on a man to make things happen. She owns her opportunities and actions both good and bad.
In addition to everything previously mentioned, there are plenty of memorable moments spread throughout the film. I would rather not share them with you as I feel they are much better suited to be experienced when watching the actual film. I will say, however, that there are five moments in particular that really stood out. Without giving too much away, these scenes involved a series of soap opera moments, a product demonstration scene, an emotional breakdown scene in a hotel, a scene outside of a Kmart, and finally the film’s ending. These five standout scenes represented such a wide range of emotion from comedy to true heartbreak.
All in all, Joy is inspirational and by far the best David O. Russell film to date. Jennifer Lawrence has never been better and the story is simple yet complex. This is without a doubt one of the best films of 2015 and one that women everywhere should be proud of. This is a rare film that showcases a female lead in such a positive and inspirational way.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Joy is a 9.5 out of 10.