“Joy” is Director David O. Russell’s third collaboration with the actress Jennifer Lawrence and his adoration for her shows: Lawrence has never acted better: funny and adorable, vulnerable and dramatic, appealing and relatable. As Joy Mangano, this is one of those blood, sweat, and tears performances, destined to be recognized. She is the literal and emotional center of the film, making even the actors around her more appealing. But for me, Lawrence is miscast: much too young for the role, and the screenplay, by Russell and Annie Mumolo, doesn’t really fill the lacking years. She nearly succeeds, and only doesn’t because of the material.
I was disappointed with the film: Joy’s story, as written here, isn’t interesting enough, and not significant enough for an epic one hundred thirty minute film. It’s a modern success story, of course, a millennial rags-to-riches tome, but, it’s still a life that’s unfolding, and it’s even unfolding as we speak: on January 3, Mangano is releasing a new version of the Miracle Mop, the product that catapulted her, and story of its rise is documented in this film. It’s a thin premise, though enough for the audience to care about.
Ultimately, this is an exercise for twenty five yeardLawrence to display her acting chops, and in all likelihood will get another Academy Award nomination. I just wish the film had a lot more weight.