I must disclose at the outset that I am a tremendous Jennifer Lawrence fan, and she was a shining star in this movie. However, I am faced with judging a movie as a whole and not simply the performances therein. I think that Jennifer Lawrence is deserving of her Oscar nomination for Best Actress for this role, because she was the only salvageable part of a rare misstep by David O. Russell. This is Lawrence’s third collaboration with the director, and it has the ambition of Silver Linings Playbook but is undone by script and tone problems.
For fans of David O. Russell films (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, and American Hustle) what makes them so thrilling is the bravery of the writer-director’s storytelling ability. As the plots make bold shifts in tone and the characters spout highly scripted but thoroughly quotable dialogue, audiences seemingly hold their breath to see if he can get to the finish line without having these beautifully crafted world collapse.
Russell hopes for a Jennifer Lawrence hat trick with Joy, but unfortunately, this time his delicate balloon pops. It’s a movie about a lower middle class single mother rediscovering her creativity, her fight not to be exploited by the world of commerce or her dysfunctional family, and about the birth of QVC and the show-business of retail sales. However, Russell (who shares story credit with Bridesmaids co-writer Annie Mumolo) doesn’t quite figure out how to tell these stories at the same time, or even back-to-back, resulting in a pile-up of characters and incidents and emotions that just never works. Continue reading Joy (2015)