Written by Sophie Bell

My opinion of previous David O. Russell films has always been heavily influenced by the presence of his best friend, one Jennifer Lawrence. In my mind, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and ‘American Hustle’ are both three-star films, elevated to four solely by the presence of Lawrence. The director once again teamed up with Jennifer Lawrence – as well as Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro – to bring us ‘Joy’ at the start of this year. Unfortunately, the title is about as far as the positivity goes with this offering.

It’s such a strange film to watch. I mean, the premise is a mock-biopic about a woman inventing a mop, so I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised, but it’s honestly all over the place. There are scenes where soap opera characters randomly pop up and then aren’t really mentioned again. The timeline too, is a bit of a mess, and at one point a lady playing Joan Rivers pops up at QVC. It’s like, what the fuck am I watching?

It just comes across as quite experimental and frankly chaotic – more of a luke-warm mess than a hot mess, and it could’ve done with some serious refining. Also, most of the characters are horrible. Jennifer Lawrence is undoubtedly charismatic and sparky and fun, and I just enjoy watching whatever she does so much. So I kind of felt like ‘Joy’ – the first film where she’s carrying the whole thing – should have been the best of her David O. Russell trilogy. Sadly, it’s arguably the worst of the lot.

All that being said, I did like a few things: I enjoyed that there wasn’t really any romantic plot going on, because not every film needs that shit. Jennifer Lawrence is, as always, thoroughly watchable, and the scene where she’s doing the slow walk down the street, putting her shades on is cool as fuck. I just much wanted the whole thing to be much, much better. 

Once again, we have a film relying on Hollywood’s brightest actress to pull it out of the mire. This time though, ‘Joy’ is more of a merky two star film, propelled to a three purely by Jennifer Lawrence. It’s mediocre, it’s alright, just about good enough to warrant a cautious recommendation – for JLaw if nothing else – but you have been warned.

Rating: 6.5/10

Director: David O. Russell
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro