Joy

3 out of 5 stars

Jennifer Lawrence’s determined force of a performance is the only thing that holds this film together, no matter what the uneven and patchy script throws at her. What would have been a simple and inspirational rags-to-riches story of a housewife who invented the Miracle Mop, with a quick detour into the QVC story when the narratives cross each other, is essentially Huckabee-ed by David O. Russell. Some characters (I’m looking at you Rossellini, De Niro and Marsden) are so quirky and eccentric they seem to have wandered in from a different film, perhaps a second rate Wes Anderson homage that doesn’t work. The rest of the cast are all gamed but their characters are too one-dimensional to have any depth or purpose other than to build this chaotic background for her to strive against. When the scenes that work are the ones that are predictable and conventional and in which Lawrence is allowed to shine, I think it is fair to say that Russell’s strenuous attempt to break away from a straight forward narrative simply ends up being frustrating, messy and less than joyous.

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