Joy. The name of a woman I had never heard of, and upon watching her story, will never forget. This film by David O. Russell is based on the story of Joy Mangano, doyenne of QVC. I was hoping the film would be joyful, and was pleased that it had a happy ending. It moved slowly at first, very slowly, and is told partially from the perspective of Mimi, Joy’s devoted maternal grandmother (Diane Ladd). The film is rated PG-13 for brief strong language.
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert de Niro, Isabella Rossellini, and Bradley Cooper, the film held a promise of greatness. I would call it a quiet film, however, with subtle performances, especially from Jennifer Lawrence who plays Joy, and Bradley Cooper as Neil Walker. Even dialogue is delivered in whispers at times, and it serves up the message of a woman who would not give up.
Having just seen this the day after The Big Short, a film that just left me angry (see previous review), I was once again inspired. Good things do happen to people providing they don’t give up, don’t allow themselves to be walked on, and believe in themselves.
It helps to be smart, finish high school, and be determined. How many women who could go on to college don’t, because they fall for a singing, dancing lothario who sweeps them off their feet, and before they know it, they have kids and a nowhere life. Joy didn’t let that stop her. Her role models weren’t very positive, like her mother who has given up and does nothing all day long but watch soap operas.
For all of you complainers out there saying, “If only I had (fill in the blank), then things would be different.” Don’t wait for a role model, be your own role model. Seek out those who can help you fulfill that dream you’ve buried deep within thinking you can’t have it now that you’re a mom, caretaker, breadwinner, you name it.
I saw Jennifer Lawrence in her two other Golden Globe winning roles with David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook (for which she also won the Academy Award) and American Hustle. But I was her fan beginning with Winter’s Bone, where she played a strong teenager caring for her two younger siblings, taking on that responsibility from her absent parents. She displayed a quiet intensity for that role, as she does for this Academy Award nominated performance. In this film as Joy, she is so consistent in playing the character, that we see glimmers of who she will become, we watch the integrity with which she approaches her life, all leading us on to the older, wiser Joy.
But she was wise all along. Go see this film (and be patient; remember I said it is slow in the beginning), especially if you are a woman who has a dream longing to burst out. Joy may be just the inspiration you need to push you to take that first step.