Joy (2015)

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There is so much to like and so much to dislike in Joy (2015). It offers intriguing and unflattering insights into the business ethics and inner workings of television’s high-volume shopping channels, but the novelty dims as the pretty-housewife-turns-mega-entrepreneur story gives way to your standard “anyone can be President” soap, and with a mop would you believe.

The acting is sharp, controlled, and often humorous in a downtown Bronx kind of way, and the regular sideshows into feminine vulnerabilities and strengths ensures Joy has a place on the shelves of feminist film, but only just.

There are too many distractions that limit the film’s potential to provide insight into the human spirit under extreme adversity. If Joy were Jim or some other male the story would flop like her mops, so it rests entirely on the shoulders of the implacable Jennifer Lawrence to make us see beyond the film’s clichés about the crushing effects of American capitalism on the individual. The American Rifle Association must have leapt for Joy when she admits to feeling better after shooting a few rounds to relieve her pent-up anger about male treachery and being told go home to tend the family.

Overall, this is an entertaining, if somewhat clichéd story of feminine triumphalism in the fabricated-value world of television commerce.

Director: David O. Russell                                                            3

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper

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