'Joy' Lifts Spirits at the Last General OCFS Screening of the Year

Our dedicated OCFS Members fought Boat Parade traffic for the chance to enjoy David O’ Russell and Jennifer Lawrence’s latest collaboration, ‘Joy.’ 

Last night marked more than one milestone as it was Orange County Film Society’s last General Screening of the year, and also, it’s last General screening at the Lido Theater, at least under the name Lido Live!

The uncertain future of Newport Beach’s historic art deco theater was quickly forgotten once the film started rolling. O’Russell’s regular infusion of energy through camera movement laid the story: a young girl whose mind and hands once created inventions, is transformed to a disheveled single mom. Her mind and hands are now weary from managing a hectic family.  Her mother, (Virginia Madsen) is glued to a repetitious soap opera and won’t leave her bedroom. Her ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez) lives in her basement and has never moved out.  Her father (Robert De Niro), who moves back in after being dumped by his latest love. Her only solace is her grandma (Diane Ladd), who narrates the film and encourage’s Joy to break free of her circumstances and fulfill the destiny she has been reminding her of since childhood.

Driven to re-create herself, she designs and builds a mop with a 300-foot continuous loop cotton head and a new squeeze mechanism. She pleads for start-up cash from her father’s new wealthy girlfriend (Isabella Rossellini) and eventually finds herself at the headquarters of the QVC network, persuading a sympathetic but shrewd executive (Bradley Cooper) to give her and her mop a shot.

O’Russell has created a contemporary Cinderella story with feministic undertones. The most obvious relation to the fairy tale comes during the scene where the Miracle Mop idea comes to Joy. She is busy cleaning a mess made by her spoiled relatives when inspiration strikes. And throughout the film, though the men in her life provide some assistance, it’s always clear that Joy is the heroine who must overcome. We can see Joy’s daughter witnessing her mother’s struggles while Joy does her best to stay resilient and pass down her convictions to her children. She falters, as humans do, but as foretold early on, manages to overcome.

The most intriguing thing about this very human story is that it doesn’t end with the invention or it’s QVC success. O’Russell provides a more authentic depiction of entrepreneurship, one where Joy, with all the best intentions and incredible strength of will, is still subject to very real obstacles including an undermining half-sister, a sometimes flagrant father, and real-life crooks.

Despite O’Russell’s best intentions with the story, the film itself could use some cleaning up. However, some messy exposition, a few lines of excruciatingly literal dialogue and some rambling are forgiven by Jennifer Lawrence’s brilliant performance and an overall enjoyable film.



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