Last night I saw Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro.
Joy Mangano (Lawrence) is an inventor, entrepreneur and multimillionaire—but it took a lot of work for her to get there.
As a single mom in the late 80s, Mangano was always thinking up ways to make life a little easier. One of those ideas led to her invention of the Miracle Mop; at the time, a revolutionary cleaning device that was self-wringing and machine washable. This film tells the story (loosely) of how she was able to sell her idea to the right entity despite a difficult dysfunctional family and no prior business experience.
Jennifer Lawrence (though a bit young to be playing Joy) dazzles as the headstrong woman who seems to solve all of her family's problems. She has a depressed mother living downstairs and a friendly ex-husband in the basement as she raises her two kids, juggles a crazy sister and works full time. But she manages to do it all as she invents what will become her breakthrough product.
De Niro plays her father Rudy just as you'd expect him to; forcefully, lovingly, borderline annoyingly. Of course, he's perfect. But unfortunately, the film isn't.
Each step taken, each word spoken, each concentrated look delivered is far too exaggerated. The camera whizzes around each scene like a drunk cocktail party guest while us audience members spend more time looking at Lawrence's hair than thinking about the developing plot.
Sure, there are brief "miracle" moments, like every time Bradley Cooper shows up as Joy's business contact. And the story itself (especially for women) is inspiring because the real-life woman went on to be an even greater success (and yes, the Miracle Mop is being re-released with a new spin TOMORROW, so she's obviously still entrepreneurial-minded).
But unlike the sincerity of director David O'Russell's other hits like Silver Linings Playbook, the heart was missing from Joy, leaving us bleached of emotion.