JOY Review - Inspiring, Hopeful, A Triumph

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JOY, from 20th Century FOX, presents the true story of Joy Mangano, a divorced single mother and brilliant inventor trapped by circumstance creates, markets and sells the Miracle Mop while enduring tremendous personal, emotional and financial setbacks.

Directed by David O. Russell, he reunites Jennifer Lawrence as Long Island matriarch Joy; Robert De Niro as her father, Rudy, the owner of an auto repair shop and Bradley Cooper as Neil Walker, the Station Manager of an fledging 24 hour shopping network, QVC.  Joy also stars Edgar Ramirez, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Elisabeth Rohm and Dascha Polanco with Isabella Rossellini as Trudy

We met The Mangano’s, our dysfunctional Italian American family early with a knock on the door, and Rudy explains to Joy he needs to live in her basement as the women he left Terry/Virginia Madsen for has left him.

While all this chaos is swirling about, Joy is preparing to go to her job as airline ticket agent, her two children need her, her mother Terry, trapped in the world of daytime soaps and living the lives while screaming advice at the characters; her grandmother, the calm and rational one, Mimi played by Diane Ladd, is trying to explain, while Joy is telling her father, her ex-husband, Tony, played by Edgar Ramirez lives in the basement.

Any single mother raising two children with or without extended family living together or not understands the pressure, worry and financial concerns this women faces. One unplanned repair, sickness, expense and it can be straw that breaks the camels back.

The film moves in and out of the present, as Joy and her high school friend, Jackie, played by Dascha Polanco, talk about life as the two are reminiscing one night which is when the audience begins to understand the dynamics.

Joy, the valedictorian of her high school class, lets her dreams pass her by for duty and what seems like love and two beautiful children later, she and Tony divorce in a scene so resonating and powerful it is shocking.

Soon she has once again settled into a routine of enabling everyone and carrying all burdens. Rudy seems to be the only one in the family moving on as he registers himself on a singles dating service and as a hot blooded Italian and sells himself that way soon he is dating a very wealthy widower, Trudy, played by Isabella Rossellini.

Soon for Rudy and Trudy, afternoons are vino and romance and one afternoon they invite everyone out on Trudy’s sailboat. The wind, waves and wine lead to spills and broken glass and one lonely girl cleaning up the mess.

After wringing out the mop more times than she can count, Joy with red, raw hands, shards embedded in her flesh, bloody cuts, she takes some medicine and falls into a deep sleep. During which she has a dream, a collage of deeply concerning moments.

When she awakens decisions for questions she hadn’t realized she was considering were made which included both men in her life moving out and more importantly she awakens with the design for the Miracle Mop.

Enlisting her five year old they sit and draw the plans, the blue prints for what would eventually become one of the most popular sellers and highest grossing mops in the world.

Of course, it seems that by this point and 17 years of trail by fire, a cicada entombed in a shell fighting the molten exterior for rebirth, and armed with a brilliant idea she would be an instant success.

Well, the one lesson Joy didn’t understand, at the time, was the laws of success. The first being the greater the potential the more difficult everyone will make your life as the pieces will be easy to pick up and someone else will sprint to the ATM off your hard work.

Slowly she found out after multiple setbacks, disillusionments, lying lawyers, fraudulent partners, thieving and disgruntled family members her mop was such a good, golden, idea that every worm in the world came after it.

Her break came through of all people, her ex-husband. Still strong, a better friend than husband, the two became strong partners and he just happened to know this guy who set up this tiny television shopping idea, in the middle of Pennsylvania. It might as well be Mars and still worth a shot.

Our Joy, a bit shell shocked in the room of very smooth Hollywood types who may be in Amish country USA, but the ratings, sales and quarterly figures were very much Hollywood as  the station was owned by mogul Barry Diller.

Soon she has charmed a one on one demonstration with Neil Walker, played by Bradley Cooper who ran the baby shopping network like a Hollywood studio, a symphony of sorts and he the conductor. It seems finally our girl will get a break.

The film covers a substantial amount of time focusing on the beginning, development and sell of the Mop, the loyalty of her ex-husband, who remained in her life as a trusted advisor and from all accounts still remains as does her high school friend Jackie who took the reins and made a pivotal phone call as Joy decided she would be the spokesperson, in a Hail Mary, go long or go home pitch, on QVC, live TV, after a disastrous and nearly career ending first sell by QVC’s most seasoned seller.

Scenes stealers Melissa Rivers and Drena De Niro appear as QVC Queen Spokesperson Joan Rivers and Cindy also a number one seller for the fledgling station.

Joy is brilliantly played by Jennifer Lawrence and the story inspirational to every person who has ever dared, against all odds, against circumstances, against history, against the negative voices, to dream, dream big and go for it.

Joy is wonderful! Jennifer Lawrence dazzles as she joins the ensemble heavyweight cast. She hits the emotional notes from the highs to the lows, to the "I won't take no's." There are many steely eyed moments, where without words the essence is expertly conveyed. David O. Russell has brought out emotional depth from an overflowing wellspring.

David O. Russell has created a tribute film to every women who dared to dream. See this film! Not since Rocky and Working Girl has a film made you want to stand and cheer!

Joy opens Christmas Day.

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