Joy | Movie Review

Initial release: December 25, 2015 (USA)
Director: David O. Russell
Running time: 2h 4m
Box office: 97.7 million USD
Executive producers: Joy Mangano, Annie Mumolo, George Parra, Matthew Budman, Mary McLaglen, Ethan Smith, John Fox

This film has been on my radar for a very long time – mainly because anything containing Jennifer Lawrence is always on my radar. I know that this film wasn’t treated too kindly by some critics, so my expectations were lowered slightly going into this film. And personally? I don’t have a clue what they were talking about. This film was a whole lot more than I was expecting but I absolutely loved it. For some reason I didn’t think this would be my kind of film, but there was nothing that I didn’t like. The characters were fantastic, the performances were incredible and the world that was created within the film simply blew me away. I can’t really believe that this film was based on a true story – mainly because of the extreme hardships that Joy endures – and while there are some very dark times within the film, it ultimately ends up being about determination and resilience and always putting your foot down.

Joy is the wild true story of Joy Mangano and her Italian-American family across four generations centered on the girl who becomes the woman who founds a business dynasty by inventing the Miracle Mop and becomes a matriarch in her own right. Betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, pave the road in this intense emotional and human comedy about becoming a true boss of family and enterprise facing a world of unforgiving commerce. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy’s inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces.

In all honesty, the one thing that I loved more than anything else in this film was the character of Joy. My love for Joy was greatly influenced by Jennifer Lawrence’s amazing portrayal of her and there was just something about her character that I’d never seen before. She’s one of the strongest and most determined characters that I’ve ever seen before, and her drive, confidence and self-belief is incredible. But just because she is a single-minded, independent character doesn’t mean that she is rude or steps on the small people. She is loving and supportive and compassionate as well – and is a fantastic mother to her children. Joy’s character is so strong that you desperately wanted her to succeed – you wanted everything to turn out alright in the end and that kept you firmly hooked on the events of the film. Aside from Joy’s character, all of the other characters were all so realistic and interesting and engaging to watch on screen that there was no doubt in your mind what this family was like and what their family dynamic was; the relationships between Joy’s parents, and her best friend and her children all felt wonderfully real and added a dash of hilarious humour. I loved Joy and Tony’s supportive and loving relationship – even though they had long been divorced – and while Tony came across a little selfish and cocky, it became clear that he was actually a very considerate and thoughtful character.

This film is set in the 90s, and visually, everything looked stunning. All of the sets and the costumes perfectly reflected the era and the characters, and they all really added to the story that was being told. I also loved the use of music, as the use of some popular 90s classics really gave the film a sense of age and helped the audience – or me, at least – to remember that this actually was a true story and that everything happened, allowing some artistic license of course. The majority of critics complaints surrounded the pacing of the film, and how the quick, fast-paced nature of the film took away some of the emotional impact that the film had. And while I do agree that the film was very fast-paced and engaging, I don’t think that it really took anything away from the emotional blows that this film hit me with. This film is all about family and following your dreams, and these basic themes coupled with the amazing performances and storylines pack an emotional punch, no matter the other effects in the film.

This film completely surpassed my expectations, and I can’t believe that I put off watching it. I think that it would make great Saturday night viewing too because it is action-packed, full of incredible characters played by some absolute stars of Hollywood and is hilarious. And may make you cry.


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