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JENNIFER LAWRENCE IN JOY

year: 2015 cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Diane Ladd director: David O. Russell
A character-driven film is usually when the character drives the plot, and the plot relies on the character to take us where she or he chooses to go, and with JOY by SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK director David O. Russell and his stock acting troupe-trio Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper, the title character is the entire vehicle; so it's up to her and no one else to make the thing work...

That's not to say the direction isn't exemplary from the man who took us through an emotional rollercoaster ride in PLAYBOOK and partially succeeded in his lightweight Martin Scorsese style crime-caper AMERICAN HUSTLE, but it's well into the second act before his creative style becomes more than eye-candy in JOY, and that's when her back is fully pinned against the wall...

Poster for JOY
Not like she wasn't cornered all along, and Lawrence gives an above-average performance and doesn't go through the motions using the built-in talent she has to begin with. Starting out as an extremely offbeat glimpse into a dysfunctional family living in the same house including a sweet (narrating) grandmother, two children, a mother addicted to soap operas, an ex-husband living in the basement and a stubborn father that Robert DeNiro could pull off with his eyes closed...

Which doesn't matter since Joy's are wide open as she struggles to create, patent and sell a particularly useful mop for housewives while her plight, initially breezy and far-fetched... especially concerning Bradley Cooper's wedged-in role as a much too convenient TV producer... not only makes the character stronger, relying less on being spontaneous and quirky, but a plot finally unveils and, best yet... the most important aspect for any kind of vehicle... there becomes an actual destination.

RATING: ***
SPOILERS & INFO: Fans of Russell's Scorsese-like music collage vibe, not very abundant here, will enjoy one of the best Rolling Stone's tracks ever, STRAY CAT BLUES from the album where they really got rolling, BEGGER'S BANQUET, playing in a somewhat suspenseful scene, and what's become very popular after AMERICAN BEAUTY... that being the Dead Person Narration, also included in THE BUCKET LIST and most recently, LEGEND... is used here – guess no one's safe in cinema anymore.
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