Director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook; American Hustle) populates his latest slice-of-life saga with his favourite actors. Jennifer Lawrence headlines as Joy, who seems to be everywoman from someplace, America. However, the film begins by telling you that it’s based on the true stories of daring women, obviously like Joy. Narrated by her grandmother, this story spanning four generations of women is, in fact, based on the experiences of Joy Mangano, who designed a self-wringing mop that made her a millionaire.

Unlike her mother (Virginia Madsen) and grandmother (Diane Ladd), Joy is a dreamer, an inventor who rejected the need for a Prince Charming until she finally met one. Joy married Tony (Édgar Ramírez), had two children (including one daughter, thereby adding the fourth generation), divorced him, but remained friends.

Joy is a daughter, mother, ex-wife and employee juggling family responsibilities. Self-sacrificing and a bit of a pushover, she finally snaps and decides to reboot to the person she believes she was meant to be—the creator and matriarch. And that’s when she invents the self-wringing mop.

Robert De Niro plays Joy’s father, who is searching for new love, and finds it in a rich widow played by Isabella Rossellini, even as his ex-wife remains confined to her bedroom, addicted to soap operas. Bradley Cooper appears in a supporting role as Joy’s mentor, who inducts her into the world of teleshopping.

In spite of the choppy storytelling and a script that is disappointingly devoid of O. Russell’s usual sizzle, it’s the film’s middle section that grabs you—the bit where she creates and then finds ways of selling her invention, the insight into the teleshopping phenomenon, and Joy’s metamorphosis into a shrewd businesswoman. This optimistic, often amusing story is a Lawrence show all the way as she flies the flag for feminism, entrepreneurship and family without missing a beat.

Joy released in theatres on Friday.

Close