★★★☆☆ – This film should be one to empower an audience, but unfortunately it is actually a messy attempt at trying to convey the true significance of what it means to be an American. Without it’s true wonder of a protagonist played by the delightful Jennifer Lawrence, it would easily be just another misbegotten endeavour.
STARRING – Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Édgar Ramírez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen.
RATING – 12A
RUNNING TIME – 124 minutes
Joy tells the true story of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano, who got rich in the 1990s selling her own revolutionary self-wringing mop on the QVC home shopping channel – while battling with various members of her own massively dysfunctional extended family.
We meet Joy at her lowest point as she is struggling to combine motherhood and work, living in the family home with her invalid mother Carrie (Virginia Madsen) and grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd), who is the only one who remembers how talented and creative Joy was as a little girl. In her basement lives Joy’s deadbeat ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez) and also her hopeless divorced dad Rudy (Robert De Niro). This is an admirable feature of this film, it is a more realistic representation of a family than any other American film, this family are disjointed and have their problems which makes it just that bit more relatable for the audience.
The first half an hour or so of the film does not see the story go anywhere, leaving the audience in a state of boredom and desperation for something to happen. As of yet we have just seen Joy been pushed to the ground by her endless problems and mistakes, there seems to be no hope and no sign to where the film is heading.
However, just when you think life can’t get any worse for Joy, she comes up with the idea of the Miracle Mop. This is a pivotal moment of the film, no longer is she just a someone which her family relies on, but she is now a woman with a real purpose, a dream and a vision. We can see right there in that moment the effect the dream has on her, she becomes focused, determined and resilient, traits which shine throughout the film and ensure her deserving success.
After securing an investment, she must now prove that the mop will sell in a rather lovely scene in which Jennifer Lawrence portrays the desperation of the character perfectly allowing the audience to really root for the character and her success.
However, from here on, the story starts to become muddled with too much business jargon which takes the focus of the film away from the character of Joy and instead of the audience feeling like they are watching a film, they feel as if they are watching an episode of BBC’s The Apprentice. And although the business side of this venture is important for the audience to fully understand Joy’s story, it starts to become confusing.
On the other hand, the unpredictable side of business does allow the film to become an emotional roller coaster of successes and failures, keeping the audience gripped.
One of the highlights of the film, is the on-screen friendship between Joy and the QVC executive played by Bradley Cooper. They first meet after Joy’s ex-husband secures a meeting for them both. This is the make or break moment for Joy, what happens in that meeting, could change her life forever. Luckily she manages to impress the executive and land herself a deal of 50,000 mops just before she is allowed to see behind the scenes of the telethon system. Here we finally see her realise that she could be successful, that she could make it.
However, as always nothing is as easy as it seems, as Joy comes to the realisation that she can not financially support this business. From here Joy is faced with many more hurdles but as ever she faces them with her determined personality, never taking failure as an option.
OPINION: Joy is saved by the the star studded cast it has secured, with Jennifer Lawrence producing yet another outstanding performance. Yet, this film should have left me inspired and empowered by the thought of the power of an American Dream but instead I was left quite frankly thankful that it was over. Although it does feature some gripping scenes and some scenes of excellent film making, overall it just didn’t deliver. Perhaps it was the idea of the audience having to gain an attachment to a mop that I found hard to understand, I just didn’t find myself wanting the mop to really excel, I was left indifferent.