January 14, 2016 at 6:41 pm | Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment
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I am not sure how best to describe this funny little film, which may be why it has not done well with critics and audiences. It purports to be the true story of Joy Mangano, queen of the QVC and HSN, and her rise from obscurity to wealth, thought it primarily focuses on her efforts to get her first product, the self-wringing mop, off the ground. Needless to say, she cleans up (sorry). But, the problem is that her story isn’t all that exciting. Director David O. Russell clearly knows how to use Jennifer Lawrence, as films like “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle” show. But he seems a bit lost here. Even with cast regulars like Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, and just can’t create the chemistry that worked so well in his previous films, perhaps because most of the central characters are so deeply unlikeable. The real Mangano was an executive producer, grinding her ax to the nub in the process of making her entire family into stock villains, while portraying herself as a saintly victim. Russell tries hard to create some measure of light and life by dotting the film with interesting story-telling and visual devices, but they seem haphazard and are not consistently carried throughout. Sometimes the humor works and sometimes it seems strangely empty. The story finally seems to pick up energy when Cooper’s character arrives and QVC enters the picture. But then stumbles again, rallies briefly and ends with an emotionally empty where-are-they-now. It’s a shame because, even through this mess, you can still seeing Lawrence shinning as one of the most remarkable actors alive today. She plays steely-eyed vulnerable like nobody within 20 years of her; it’s impossible to imagine what she’ll be like if she continues evolving as an artist. In the end, she is the only joy that “Joy” has to offer.


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