Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Joy’ Review: Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper & Robert De Niro

Is there anything more joyous than a Jennifer Lawrence movie opening on Christmas Day? Lawrence re-teams with director David O. Russell and her Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle co-stars in Joy, a film about the woman behind the Miracle Mop, her struggle in creating and manufacturing it and her dysfunctional family structure. But this film is not just about the invention of the Miracle Mop; it is so much more than that and probably the most holiday centric film coming out Christmas Day.

Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) is working long hours as an airline assistant, while also supporting her soap opera obsessed mother (Virginia Madsen), her struggling businessman father (Robert De Niro), her ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez) who lives in the basement and her two young children. Joy also has a half sister Peggy (in a wonderfully nasty performance by Elisabeth Rohm) who is constantly negative and is always trying to compete for their father’s attention. When Joy gets the idea of creating a self-wringing mop that you can wash and reuse, she’s put to the test of finding financiers and getting her mop manufactured for purchase.

But it’s not without complication, frustration and financial struggle that the mop gets made. When Joy meets Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper), the man behind the biggest home shopping network on cable, QVC, Joy starts to strike gold. A coming of age story and the journey of a woman daring to make her dream come true, Joy is funny, honest and features a tremendous performance by Jennifer Lawrence.

joy jennifer lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence is remarkable as Joy and it’s legitimate to say that her pairing with Russell will become what Leonardo DiCaprio has with Martin Scorsese or what Johnny Depp has with Tim Burton. This duo is a match made in movie heaven and there will always be another film of theirs to look forward to! Sure, this performance may not be as “showy” as her performances in Silver Linings Playbook or even this year’s Mockingjay: Part 2, it’s a very internal and complicated role. Lawrence acts well beyond her years and has an on screen presence unlike any other actress her age.

The cinematography by Linus Sandgren (2013’s American Hustle) is lovely, Russell shot on film and the earlier shots of Joy as a child were filmed on 16mm. The grainy texture adds to the fairy-tale like quality of the film. The music by David Campbell is whimsical and appropriate for a holiday film about family, courage and hope.

Joy is a fascinating story, an actual Cinderella tale about a woman going from rags to riches, except she doesn’t need Prince Charming or a husband to fulfill her goals. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are wonderful, while David O. Russell adds another striking film to his filmography.

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