Joy (12A)

Joy tells the true-life story of a single mother who risks everything to make her fortune.

Burdened with caring for her grandmother, mother, father, ex-husband and two children, and holding down a steady job, Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence) has it tough. All of this means that she has had to put her life, and in turn her dreams, on hold.

But then after yet another miserable, degrading day Joy snaps out of her dreamlike state and begins to put plans in place to change her future. Inspired after mopping up wine on a boat belonging to her father’s new girlfriend and cutting her hands to shreds, Joy invents a new style of mop, and ends up reinventing herself as a success.

As a child she was a prolific inventor, a skill she has neglected ever since. But designing and making things is what makes her tick. As she sketches her first design for the mop it’s clear to see that inventing is her true passion. She just needs someone to believe in her.

Gone are the days when everyone is supported by Joy, the matriarch is calling in all her favours for this invention and she will do whatever it takes to reach her goal. Her dysfunctional family help and hinder her in equal measure but everything Joy does is for them. Joy will need a hell of a lot of grit and determination to become a successful inventor.

The single mother eventually strikes it rich in the 1990s when she lands a spot on the QVC home shopping channel selling her revolutionary self-wringing mop. In a series of flashbacks we see how Joy made her fortune, and how she dealt with the unforgiving and ugly side of commerce. All the while we witness her battling with various condescending male corporate heads and members of her extremely dysfunctional family.

Joy is the inspirational tale of what a downtrodden individual can achieve when they start to believe in themselves. Jennifer Lawrence brings her normal level of excellence to the role. She manages to exude strength while being extremely vulnerable at the same time.

The family dynamic in the movie is strange, but like in David O. Russell’s other productions like Silver Linings Playbook and the superb American Hustle, it works. The only downfall of the movie is that it doesn’t play more on the role of QVC boss Neil Walker played by Bradley Cooper, leaving Jennifer Lawrence little to play off. Lawrence and Cooper, with the exception of Serena, have a long track record of making beautifully gripping movies together.

Joy is an exceptional true-life movie that’s well worth seeing. It’s a heartfelt story of one woman’s struggle to become the person she knows she can be. Miss it and you’ll soon regret it.

By Ruth Walker
★★★★☆

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