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Film Review: Joy (2015)

I never understood the hate for this movie—especially when it came out. Because of this, when I finally decided to watch the film my expectations for this flick were quite low.

Directed by David O. Russell, Joy stars Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano—a divorced single mom who juggles the hectic schedule of raising two children, working as a booking clerk for Eastern Airlines with little pay, attending to her soap opera-obsessed mother’s needs (Virginia Madsen), dealing with her ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez), attending to her father’s needs (Robert De Niro), and living in the same crummy house with all of them, (even her ex-husband!) Through a journey of self-discovery, trust, betrayal, and love, Joy attempts to alter all that with the idea of a Miracle Mop—possibly changing the course of her future. Featured supporting roles include Isabella Rossellini, Bradley Cooper, and Diana Ladd.

“Don’t ever think that the world owes you anything, because it doesn’t. The world doesn’t owe you a thing.”

I can see why many people disliked the writing and pacing of the film—as the beginning of Joy seemed to focus on too many things beforehand. Because of this, the focus of the film is initially unclear and murky. By the time Joy thinks up idea of a new type of mop, it appeared as if there was no actual build-up; it seemed as if the idea came out of nowhere. Furthermore, some important events of Joy’s life were sped past, so it leaves the audience questioning how exactly did Joy create a future for herself.

The number of clichés in this film is also disappointing. For example, featured in the film

Taking out some rage.

are the whole ‘elderly person telling a child ‘you’re better than the world’ and ‘cutting hair emotional breakdown’ clichés. I think that gives you a bit of a hint as to how cheesy it can get after a while…

Nevertheless, I found many positive aspects to be present in Joy. One example would be Jennifer Lawrence’s acting. As usual, Jennifer does a fantastic job at painting a realistic portrayal of a real-life woman’s story; she accurately depicts the massive levels of emotional turmoil Joy Mangano faced in real life, along with her number of hard-earned successes.

They look pretty tame…but are they?

Another positive aspect is the amount of emotion the troubling story-line elicits from its audience. The countless failures and struggles Joy faces really gets to the audience. To put it simply, the stress Joy feels is the same kind felt by the audience. Many people complained about Joy’s troubling family as being ‘unrealistic.’ However, I’d like to argue with that not everything is roses and ponies in real life; many people deal with depressing families all the time. The mistake many people made is that just because Joy is a film, they expected the film to have a happy, supportive family—as many are accustomed to getting a fairytale plot. In my opinion, it was perfectly fine to illustrate Joy’s dysfunctional family as it emphasized the struggles she faced.

“You know what you are? You’re like a gas leak. We don’t see, we don’t smell you, and your silently killing us all.”

Overall, I think Joy was an ok film. Sure, it had its flaws, but I think the problem with many people who gave the film low-ratings is that they came in with narrow minds. Many people criticized the banality of the invention of a mop and shut their brains off there. The thing is that Joy is so much more than that. It’s about the emotional struggles and eventual success that real-life Joy Mangano faced—not just a mop, as stupid as it sounds. With both its flaws and strengths, at least give the film a try.

Running Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes

Rating: PG-13

Final Verdict: B-

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