Friday, December 25, 2015

Joy - Review

    It’s well known that directors enjoy working with specific actors and vice versa. But what David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper have is truly a loving work relationship. Earning two best picture nominations for their previous two times out, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, perhaps the third time, Joy, will be the charm for the trio to bring home the big Oscar prize, or maybe not.
   Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) is a struggling woman, dealing with family issues, her ex-husband, and the low income she receives. It all changes when encouragement from her grandmother (Diane Ladd) and inspiration combine to push Joy to become a businesswoman and alter her life forever. Though not everything is simple, as the world of commerce is truly unforgiving. The trials and tribulations along the way hit Joy at full force, as she continually relies on her fierce imagination to steer the way.
   One thing can certainly be said about a David O. Russell film: he gets great performances out of his actors.  Jennifer Lawrence is already great and has been for a majority of her career. Combine her talent with that directing talent and you get a great lead performance and most importantly a spectacular character to lean on. But beyond that there isn’t a weak link among the performances. Bradley Cooper is his same charismatic self as businessman Neil Walker, delivering the right amount of charm without overdoing it. Robert De Niro, long thought to be going through the motions in recent films, gives a second great performance under David O. Russell’s direction. He plays Joy’s father, Rudy, and gives the film quite a bit of humor along the way.
   On the story side of things, Joy doesn’t offer anything truly new or anything that stands out. It’s a rather bland rags-to-riches story and in a way it works but other parts move rather slow or don’t work quite as well. The most interesting parts of the film revolve around the creative process and produce quite a few comedic moments. The family elements are well balanced with the business end of things, but something about seeing Joy lead meetings or start arguments with adversaries just makes the film work better.

   Overall Joy is by no means a bad film and will catch a lot of flack by being compared to David O. Russell’s last two films. The acting is just as good as those two spectacular films, if not better. The story is just not up to par with the performances and can drag at times. It’s not as stylistic as his works in the past, but Russell still delivers a pretty well done, heartfelt, breezy film and one that certainly accomplishes what it was intended to do. (7.0/10)

So what did you think of Joy? Have you seen it and how does it compare to other two films mentioned? Share and comment below and as always return to I Am Sam for weekly reviews.