“Joy” is the movie I’ve been talking about the most during the Holidays. Well, the one that doesn’t have lightsabers. David O. Russell has taken what could’ve been a standard biopic and taken to the level that you’d expect from his collaborations with Jennifer Lawrence. Evoking “I Heart Huckabees” more than any of this other work, Russell has created a story that isn’t concerned with details, but the overall thrust of the main character. Joy is larger than the grime that mires her life.
Mixing soap opera style fantasy master shots with the cramped confines of business dealings, “Joy” wants to live in both worlds. While that is rather schizo, we get to see how nothing made sense for a young woman that was never meant to achieve this much. Her family cheats her out of college, her mother tries to steal her life and her half-sister won’t stop talking for her. When does Joy get to be Joy? Well, when she’s busting heads and mopping them up with her latest invention.
Bradley Cooper is barely in it and Melissa Rivers’ brief role as her own mother upstages him throughout the film. Jennifer Lawrence carries the film on her back, but she gets ample help from Robert De Niro and Isabella Rossellini. De Niro during the wedding sequence was worth the price of admission. The guy must’ve tapped into some sort of douchebag aura to hit the perfect notes of a deadbeat relative trying to make a wedding reception about himself. While later scenes never matched what he did there, it’s amazing to see De Niro bringing it again.
There are going to be multitudes of people that hate this film. It’s weird, it’s unapologetic and it takes place in that wide swath of time between 1975 and 1998. Russell makes no attempts to give you a roadmap, but you’re expected to enjoy the ride. I appreciate that in a filmmaker and I hope to see his contemporaries follow suit. Check out the film, while Star Wars continues its march to destroying Avatar’s records.
RELEASE DATE: 12/25/2015