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JOY is the wild story of a family across four generations, and centers on the girl who becomes the woman who founds a business dynasty 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. Oscar® Winner JENNIFER LAWRENCE* stars with fellow Oscar® Winner ROBERT DE NIRO,** BRADLEY COOPER, EDGAR RAMIREZ, ISABELLA ROSSELLINI, DIANE LADD, VIRGINIA MADSEN, ELISABETH RÖHM and DASCHA POLANCO. Like David O. Russell s previous films, Joy defies genre to tell a story of family, loyalty, and love.
*2012, Actress, Silver Linings Playbook. **1980, Actor, Raging Bull; 1974, Supporting Actor, The Godfather Part II.
**Joy, Strength and Perseverance
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I suppose I should say "spoiler alert", if you're sensitive, but in my opinion, the more you know about "Joy" going in, the more likely you are to enjoy it. This is a (basically) true story about a woman who puts her life on hold to take care of her dysfunctional family, and how she eventually shakes herself awake and becomes a success, on her terms. (If you want real spoilers, look up Joy Mangano's bio in Wikipedia). Based on that:
...it's starts slow, just like she does. At least the first half of the movies is pretty much a downer.
...you spend most of the movie with her family, and they are mostly an unpleasant lot: codependent, manipulative users. So are most everyone she interacts with in business. She's got one good friend, and her kid is cool. Other than that... expect to dislike most everybody.
...Success does not come easy, so expect a lot of disappointment on the way to the ending, which IS very satisfying. Maybe all the more so, because of what you (she) goes through to get there.
I was disappointed when I watched "Joy", because David O. Russell has shown how much fun he was able to find in war ("Three Kings") and mental illness ("Silver Linings Playbook"). Here, he choose not to do that. He could have made this fun, but chose not to. Instead, it's frustrating, and that ends up being inspirational: after watching this, I really felt a charge, a push to get over my BS and make things happen in my life. And that's a good thing.
Oh, she started out joyful enough. She loved making things as a child—stories, songs, dioramas folded from paper. Her grandmother, “Mimi,” told her she was destined for greatness. And who was Joy to contradict wise, old Gran?
But when life’s realities meet life’s possibilities, the realities tend to beat up the possibilities and steal their lunch money. Joy’s parents divorce. She’s her high school’s valedictorian, but she skips college to care for her mother and do bookkeeping for her dad. She gets married … and gets divorced. By her mid-20s, her life looks nothing like her paper dioramas. She works for an airline but detests every minute of it. Her house is full of people who need taking care of. Her children. Her mother, who subsists on a steady diet of soap operas. Even her ex-husband, Tony, who still lives in the basement as he just keeps on warming up for his nonexistent singing career. Oh, and Joy’s father, Rudy, is moving in, too, which means he’ll need to share that basement with Tony (the two men despise each other) and the house with his ex-wife (who loathes the very sight of him).
Joy? Maybe she should consider a name change. Despair has a nice ring to it.
But then one night, after mopping up a mess of wine and broken glasses—shredding her hands as she tries to wring out the mop—she has an epiphany: Wouldn’t it be great if there was a mop head you could wring out without touching it? A mop head you could just chuck into the washing machine when it got dirty?
She starts sketching out some ideas in her daughter’s bedroom and, before long, she thinks she’s made something special. Something, dare we say, revolutionary.
Lots of life’s realities stand in the way of this great idea. She has no money, for one thing. If she even got the mop made, she has no place to sell it. But this time, Joy’s determined to make good on the possibility. This time, reality’s going to have to chill and earn its own lunch money for once.
The movie (based, somewhat loosely, on the life of inventor and eventual Home Shopping Network star Joy Mangano) suggests that Joy has been “hiding,” like a cicada, for about 17 years—ever since her parents divorced, in fact. But hiding or no, she’s been a pretty decent person during that time. She’s a good mother—a job doubly hard when you’re a single mom, like Joy is. And she serves as a sort of mommy for many of the other people in her life, too. Her home is open to whichever family member might need it, no matter the pain or discomfort it might cause her personally.
Granted, sometimes accepting the sort of generosity Joy displays can become a crutch for people. And Joy, once she decides to invent her mop, comes to understand that. So she (quite rightly) tells Tony and Rudy that they’ll have to move out.
Joy tries to include her family in her new business as much as possible. But when their business decisions nearly lead the whole lot of 'em into bankruptcy, she grows tough and resourceful. And throughout the process, she absolutely refuses to accept failure—pushing relentlessly against the walls thrown up around her until they all come down, one after the other.
[Spoiler Warning] Once Joy manages to squelch financial ruin, she's still deeply appreciative of where she came from. She cares for her family (even when, we’re told, they tried to wrest control of her company away from her). She stays on good terms with Tony. And when fledgling inventors come to pitch their products to this one-woman conglomerate, she treats them with the respect she wishes she had been given back in the day.
It was uncomfortable to see how much her family (who she clearly tries to love and care for,) drags her down, well some of them, by their limited vision of her, and their own various dysfunctions. It was touching how much she accepted their eccentricities and tried to care for for them, and be true to herself as well. It was touching the way certain people showed up for her, were supportive, gave her a chance, believed in her. Watching it, we believe in her, but fear for her, too.
The grandmother, Diane Ladd, well has she ever had a poor acting performance? And, Robert De Niro? Well, I don't want to give a single spoiler in here though. I felt enriched, like I learned something. Worth a watch. Jennifer L. is believable.
It truly is a wonderful movie! I highly recommend it!!!
Top international reviews
Having read several of the reviews on this site, I was quite nervous about playing this film for myself and my husband, but I need not have worried. At the end, my husband was quite emotional: he thought it was a wonderful, wonderful film, with fantastic performances, by Jennifer Lawrence, Robert de Niro and Edgar Ramirez in particular. We both loved it. It was funny, touching, fun and a real delight. And it has a simply brilliant sound track, with lots and lots of great pop favourites.
A number of the unfavourable reviews here suggest that the film is slow, and the subject matter is trite or unimportant. Both suggestions are utterly unfair, and suggest the viewer has missed the point entirely. If you are looking for a breathless action-packed blockbuster, buy 'Transformers'. Yes, this film develops at a measured pace, but it is not slow, it builds. And whilst a floor mop may appear to be un-sexy, if you have invested everything in it and remortgaged your house to develop it, it is hardly unimportant! Anyway, the development of the mop is by-the-by, the real point is the journey that Joy takes to invent and market it. She is the mainstay of her family, the only person who really keeps the show on the road, and her tribulations are many. There is real joy in the film as she gradually succeeds.
This is a very human film, about a family of very ordinary flawed people, not villains or gangsters, just human flotsam and jetsom. This is about happiness and success on a human scale, and it is a delight.
The story is very wachable and in many parts funny and does strtch the truth...but very entertaining and Jennifer Lawrence is often in a comedy mood.
but this is every salesman dream to make a success
but in the most modern ways through television
jennifer does a smart job....
try also watching 'holy man' sort of goes down the left field
There is an interesting review by TIME magazine which explains the degree of accuracy regarding the "based on a true story" element.
Jennifer Lawrence is amazing.