An equilateral triangle happens when three sides of equal length meet. The triangle is also referred to as perfect, much like the union of David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in Joy.
This movie marks their third collaboration, after Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, which have already proven that Russell can direct and that Lawrence and Cooper can act.
So actually, there really is no need to stress on these subjects, but you know what, they still bear repeating because in Joy, they’re near perfection.
Lawrence plays Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop – a “magic stick” that keeps many American wives happy and possibly saves marriages around the country.
In the beginning of the movie, before Joy makes her millions selling the inventive household item, we see her busy cleaning up after her dysfunctional family.
Her divorced parents live with her – mother Terry (Virginia Madsen) in the spare room, while dad Rudy (Robert De Niro) shares the basement with her deadbeat ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez). To add to her responsibilities, Joy also has two young children and a grandmother to support.
The movie is narrated by the grandmother (Diane Ladd), who also seems to be the only person to remember the creative child Joy once was. She was always creating something and inventing nifty gadgets; but in the movie, we learn that it has been 17 years since she has done any serious thinking.
Be prepared to be frustrated with many things that happen to Joy. Everything that could go wrong does, and it all happens at the same time. The house is falling apart, Tony and Rudy don’t see eye to eye, she’s late paying the bills, her mother’s eccentricity is at its highest, and it is in the midst of all this craziness that Joy comes up with the idea for a self-wringing mop.
Joy gets financial backing from her father’s girlfriend Trudy (Isabella Rossellini), and so begins another frustrating journey in her life. You’d think that selling a bunch of mops that make household chores a breeze would be easy, but no, homemakers don’t really know what’s good for them, apparently.
Joy struggles to sell even a single mop, and guess who comes to her rescue? The deadbeat ex-husband. He introduces her to someone who knows someone at QVC, the American home-shopping channel. We are finally introduced to Cooper, who plays Neil Walker – the man who helps catapult the Miracle Mop to must-have status. And yes, you would hope for Neil and Joy to have “a thing” two minutes into their first encounter.
Russell successfully steers this semi-fictionalised biopic from becoming a drab depiction of Joy’s struggle, turning it into an inspiring tale of one woman’s strength and courage to face adversity. Seriously, life hands Joy a bunch of lemons and not only does she throw a lemonade block party, she also supplies the tequila by the crate. We have so much to learn from this woman, who still sees silver linings despite her troubles, and quickly learns that she needs to hustle to make her American dream come true.
This has to be one of Lawrence’s finest works in her still fairly young career, and she so deserves the Oscar that is headed her way at the end of this month.
Lawrence effortlessly dazzles in every scene that she carries solo, and you can’t fault any of the ones that she generously shares with De Niro or Cooper either.
There really is something about the three of them that brings such … realness to the movie, that you cannot tell where the acting starts or ends. Russell, who also wrote the screenplay, keeps the dialogue crisp, clean and real, and do keep a lookout for the killer line which Rudy uses to describe his ex-wife. Trust me, you would want to remember that for the next time you need to shut someone down.
All in all, Russell, Lawrence and Cooper deliver their magic yet again. Don’t be surprised if many reckon that this is their best work together so far.
Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Virginia Madsen, Diane Ladd, Isabella Rossellini, Edgar Ramirez