Don’t be deceived by the title – Joy will make you cry at 20-minute intervals. It tells the story of a very smart, but unappreciated housewife, Joy (Jennifer Lawrence), who is struggling to support her two children and her divorced parents. At the start of the film, Joy is a doormat. At times, it is frustrating to watch her being a spineless jellyfish when her mother demands so much, or her condescending father (Robert de Niro) makes snide comments.
After cleaning up smashed glass with a mop and cutting her hands to pieces as she wrings it, Joy is inspired to create a mop that will wring itself. It sounds like a simple idea, but we find out that nowhere else sells this product. Joy is smart and starts designing the model. With the upbeat music, Joy’s plan of action and her high-ponytail hairdo, we all get our hopes up that things are going to turn around. But she faces many, many setbacks – both in the business world, and in her family life.
To say that her family are pathetic would be a severe understatement. Joy’s father constantly belittles her ideas, and his girlfriend is unnecessarily mean to Joy from the word ‘go’. The worst character in the film is Joy’s half-sister Peggy. The film not-so-subtly explains that Peggy is jealous of Joy’s creativity, but this explanation falls flat on its face. Peggy is an awful character – she has no redeeming qualities. Amazingly, Joy doesn’t let these toxic people affect her – she rises above it and perseveres with her plans, with a little help from her lovely ex-husband.
This is a rags-to-riches tale much like ‘Cinderella’, but with one key difference: Joy doesn’t need a prince to save her. I found it refreshing that the film did not need a love interest for the strong female character. At points, I was worried that Joy would end up with the top TV producer, Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper) since he is gorgeous, wears lovely cream suits and, judging from his signet ring, is loaded. But a rushed romantic ending was thankfully not chosen. The film ends with Joy confidently walking down the street, wearing sunglasses (despite it being winter) a leather jacket and a big smile on her face.
It is so beautiful watching a character grow a backbone before your eyes and work hard for her success. Be prepared to laugh, be prepared to cry, be prepared to do both simultaneously.