Film review – Joy (David O’Russell, 2016)

Of all the stories of all the people that have ever existed on this planet, perhaps one of the last you’d think to turn into a film would be that of Joy Mangano, inventor and telesales presenter. It’s not that she’s unremarkable or boring, but she is far from a controversial character. What she does encompass, however, is both a traditional tale of the American dream and a figurehead for strong-minded women that have ever felt oppressed in work or at home.

If you’re wondering what Joy Mangano looks like in real life, there’s a popular video below of her selling her first major breakthrough invention: The Miracle Mop. From then on she became a self-made millionaire, invented many more successful products and created a business empire.

It has to be said that whilst she may be a household name across the USA, the rest of the world remains unaware of her background. Or at least they did. That was until the film Joy came along. Starring Jennifer Lawrence in the title role alongside the likes of Robert De Niro, Isabella Rossellini and Bradley Cooper, the film reveals the journey she went on to get to where she is today – from divorced mother-of-two working for Eastern Airlines right up to her first business successes.

The first forty-ish minutes of the film try really hard to give us a potted history of the causes of Joy’s personality traits, actions and outlook. It usually works on a scene-by-scene basis but the pacing causes issues and seems to lack direction until Joy herself finds a focus in her life.


From this point on the film has hit its stride and she breaks free from the oppression and the doubters. There are moments of humour (which surely explains the Comedy Golden Globe nomination, no?), edge-of-the-seat excitement (her first sell on QVC springs to mind) and fist-pumping success (I recall here a scene near the end set in a California hotel room). This is all driven by a remarkable performance by Jennifer Lawrence, reminding the world again that she isn’t just the girl from The Hunger Games but rather a girl with acting talent far beyond her years.

So whilst this film has its merits, the scatter-gunned first act and lack of consistency mean it won’t go down as one of the great films of the year, though Lawrence’s performance is worth the ticket money.

Joy is on general release globally now.





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