Thursday, February 11, 2016
3 Thoughts on Joy
1. Jennifer Lawrence - I like Jennifer Lawrence, just not usually in David O. Russell movies. I think she received way too much credit for Silver Linings Playbook (Cooper carried that movie full-force), and she was the weakest link in American Hustle. However, I think Lawrence shines in this movie. Oscar nomination worthy? NOPE. But, still much better than her previous collaborations with O. Russell. She seems more reserved and mature in this role than in her previous efforts. The performance isn't as "showy", except at the very end, which is so bad it almost ruins everything. I don't think that's her fault, though. I blame O. Russell on that atrocious ending.
2. David O. Russell - There has been a definite shift in O. Russell movies. I admit, I miss the days of Three Kings and the absurdity of I Heart Huckabees. I think part of his problem lately is definitely the casting. It's like he's stuck on repeat and it's getting really boring. His current obsession with Lawrence is insufferable; He doesn't even put her in parts that are right for her. I also believe that his films have been a little more serious in theme, and his biting sarcasm has been toned down. However, he is still an incredible filmmaker and storyteller. Anyone could have made a biopic about Joy, but O. Russell created a story involving fact-based events with a sense of dazzle. It has his signature stamped all over it, and that's a great thing.
3. Everything else - It's very telling that I saw many people (mostly men) writing this movie off as "the mop movie", as if the subject matter is instantly dull. In reality, it's the story of Joy Mangano, an incredibly successful businesswoman/inventor, who created items that changed the way "home-makers" (who, even in this day and age, are mostly still women) cleaned and organized their home. She came up with an idea that would make her life easier, and busted her ass to get it made and into the homes of millions of people everywhere. If you don't find that fascinating, then I don't have words for you. The style of the movie is also a highlight. It's not as obvious as American Hustle (which was still perfect for that story), but it feels genuine of that time period. There are several negative aspects of the move - the pace is a little too slow, the editing is choppy and distracting, and as stated above, the ending is ridiculous (there is nothing worse than a strong female character, after getting burned by humanity, deciding that chopping off her hair will solve all of her problems). So, in the O. Russell canon, this is probably one of his worst films - but I don't really think that's an insult. It's still better than 90% of the crap out there.