JOY – REVIEW: Katniss Everdeen invents a mop.
Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss ‘Joy’ Everdeen. She lives in a Roald Dahl household with her mother in bed watching soap operas, her dad Robert de Niro in the basement with her ex-husband following his latest breakup, and her grandmother and daughter. Everyone is a bit rubbish and eccentric for about the first half hour to show us how wonderful Joy is. Everything in this film is manipulative and obvious and inept. Her name is Joy and her situation initially not so happy, so most of us pick up the irony but O. Russell has to have someone say ‘You’re name is Joy? well, you’re not very joyful today!’ on the only day she ever goes to work in the movie! Joy invents a mop in one of those Newtonian moments of Eureka! and she scrawls an idea – imagine Mozart in Amadeus writing the Requiem but via the Hudsucker Proxy – in crayon. Her invention and her drive is everything and we’re supposed to root for her like this is some amazing thing – a miracle mop. It’s a f*cking mop. We’re meant to be bowled over by the ordinariness that the film maker is deigning to portray as if it were up there with the painting of the Sistine Chapel. When Joy gets her big break to sell her invention on QVC – a TV channel designed to separate the lonely, gullible and immobile from their money – it’s filmed as some kind of symphonic coming together of all that is good and right about America – capitalism, guts and verve! O. Russell films it like Oliver Stone would film the first Doors concert, with Bradley Cooper Svengali-ing from the sidelines. What most of us would dismiss as banal, trash, O. Russell wants us to reconsider from a perspective of empowerment and … I can’t be bothered. It’s a f*cking mop.
Despite selling hundreds of thousands of mops, her family are a bunch of dumb asses and Joy is none too savvy in the business line, always calling the lawyers a few days to late and reading the contract only after she’s signed it, so there’s a whole bunch of stuff about patents and problems with the suppliers which is exactly as boring as it sounds. Although O. Russell does give us a shot of her firing a gun so he can use it in the trailer (and for no other reason). O. Russell does this all the time. The effect is more important than the story and so he throws them at us. The tricksy narrative, the dream sequences, the loud characters that look like Whose Line is it Anyway contestants doing ‘Ordinary’, everything, anything to get away from the fact that this is an incredibly uninteresting story. And it’s inept. When Joy’s sister returns from California at the same time as a funeral (why?), at the same time that her father is expositioning Joy at the funeral that her sister is coming back from California and what she did there, her sister parks at the cemetery, takes her suitcase out of the car and carries the suitcase through the cemetery so we can remember (via the suitcase) that she’s been on a trip to California – with a suitcase. It’s the dumbest visual story telling ever. As Robert de Niro tells us what the suitcase is about. What the f*ck? It’s about a mop. Everything’s about a mop. And money. And who gives a shit.