Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Review

Monday, February 22, 2016

'Joy' Review

"And if “Joy” seems to move toward a foreordained conclusion, it zigzags and covers its tracks along the way, sending its heroine on a roller-coaster ride of raised hopes and brutal disappointments and playing tricks with the audience’s expectations. What kind of spark will ignite between Joy and Neil Walker, a big shot in the world of home-shopping cable television? Since he’s played by Bradley Cooper, the answer could be anything.

But the movie, in all its mess and glory, belongs almost entirely to Ms. Lawrence. She is the kind of movie star who turns everyone else into a character actor. This is not a complaint but an acknowledgment of both her charisma and her generosity. The rest of the cast members have the freedom to be weird, awful and lovable in spite of themselves, to orbit eccentrically around her celestial presence. Mr. De Niro and Ms. Rossellini in particular seem to be having the time of their lives playing parental grotesques who might have wandered out of a Roald Dahl novel.

And Mr. Russell gives this meat-and-potatoes parable of upward mobility, set in the early 1990s, a children’s-book quality. I don’t mean that the story is simplified, but rather that its magical, improbable and cruel elements are heavily underlined, so that Joy feels more like a princess laboring under a terrible spell than like a struggling working-class mother. The trolls, witches and ogres she must beguile and vanquish are, for the most part, her own kin. She is, like a fairy-tale hero or heroine, on a long and complicated quest, relying on spells and charms as well as her innate goodness to deliver her."

I had read this review before going to see the movie, Joy, and since I am a fan of David O. Russell movies, I had already known I wanted to. But this review from the NY Times, by A.O. Scott, made me even more excited. While at times the review seemed to focus more on Russell and his career by comparing Joy to his more recent films, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle,  it was extremely well-written and captured everything that I felt while watching the film. Mainly, I found it easy to relate to what Scott had to say about sometimes being confused throughout the film...wondering what the point of the film/a character was,  only to have everything make sense in some weird way. This smart, smooth review gave a nice, in-depth look into the film without giving too much away. 

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