Joy (2015) - David O Russell
David O. Russel's Joy is a tale of entrepreneurship, centered around a young woman who finds her passion for creativity and invention stifled by her eccentric family and the male-dominated world around her. From an early age, Joy has always dreamed big, but life has always gotten in the way, as she's had to care for her divorced parents, ailing grandmother, and children who are growing up in a broken home. The caretaker of the household, who is responsible for making sure everything is taken care of, Joy eventually has an ingenious idea for a self-straining mop, and while she faces many obstacles from both her family and the outside world, she eventually finds herself going from obscurity to the matriarch of a business dynasty. Definitely a step up from David O Russell's last film, American Hustle, which isn't saying much, Joy is a film that starts strong, only to lose focus in the back half of the film. The eccentric group of family members which Joy deals with on a daily basis provide a very fast-paced, engaging experience early on, as Joy navigates her way around them, helping and taking care of four generations of family. The problems with the story arise when Joy begins to see her entrepreneurial spirit take off, as the family dynamics, which end up putting a strain on Joy's creativity, never feel fully developed. While the family members and their dynamics with Joy start off interesting, they quickly become cliche and uninspiring as the film progresses, particularly Joy's sister, who is written in a way that makes her feel over-the-top, a walking caricature of doubt and pessimism to Joy's ambition and optimism. While the film's ambition is noble, being about following ones dreams and ambitions regardless of societies dictated practicality, the film is far more inconsequential than I imagine David O'Russell intended, being a film that tells you its ideas more so than it organically captures them. For me, the most interesting aspect of Joy is the aura of feminism and male oppression that hangs over the film, with Joy being a character whose dreams are routinely confronted by a male-dominated world, one which doesn't grasp the true worth of her mop invention. From the first sales attempt on QVC that sees a male spokesman struggle to grasp how to use the mop, to Joy being routinely undervalued due to her gender, the film definitely speaks to the oppression females can face, doing so both in subtle and not-so-subtle ways throughout. David O'Russell's Joy is a film that starts strong but finds its narrative unravel a bit as it progresses, but i'd be lying if I didn't say I was engaged from start-to-finish with this true story about a woman whose invention swept the nation.
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