Entertainment Movies JLaw’s Joy is 2015’s most underrated movie
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JLaw’s Joy is 2015’s most underrated movie

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joy-movie-reviewShe remains one of the highest paid actresses in the world but Jennifer Lawrence’s latest movie might be proof she’s reached peak over-exposure.

Joy, in which the beloved ingenue plays Joy Mangano, the real-life inventor of the Miracle Mop, has been notably under-buzzed.

Lawrence and the film were snubbed by both the SAG Award nominations and the National Board of Review Awards.

Perhaps it’s the fact Lawrence’s recent efforts in the final Hunger Games instalment have overshadowed this role, or maybe it’s because the combination of Lawrence, David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper is one we’ve seen all too regularly in recent years.

Perhaps it’s just that Lawrence is so persistently excellent that her success (particularly alongside O’Russell and Cooper) is no longer a surprise.

But if JLaw fatigue prevents Joy from getting the attention it deserves, it will be a crying shame.

In the same vein as his runaway 2012 success Silver Linings Playbook, Russell has crafted a touching, hysterical character-based comedy that will have you beaming in your seat.

The cast is, in a word, fantastic. Robert De Niro at his wisecracking best, plus a kooky Virginia Madsen and a hilariously intense Isabella Rossellini are standouts in a group notable for its dysfunctional chemistry.

At the heart of it all is Lawrence who, in a more subdued role than Playbook’s widower Tiffany or her turn in Russell’s other hit American Hustle, is quietly magnetic.

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In an interview with The New York Times, Russell admitted there are parallels between Lawrence and Mangano, possibly why she takes to the role so naturally.

“I’ve watched this one [Lawrence], in five years, go from a kid who walked on our set, rather innocently, to have to handle an enormous amount of attention and responsibility and had to handle it gracefully and with dignity and had to handle the ones she loves, and that’s a big deal,” he said.

“I love the partnerships between great directors [and actors], such as George Cukor and Katharine Hepburn and it’s been my privilege to work with Jennifer Lawrence. Those are formidable women, who were very, very womanly, but who could also knock you out, in numerous ways.”

Although reminisicent of other classic success-story flicks like Erin Brokovich, The Wolf of Wall Street and Jerry Maguire, Joy is in a league all its own – a mix of Royal Tenenbaums-like family drama, Brokovich girl power and Willy Wonka-esque absurdism.

While the film is about a real woman and a real story, Russell has admitted many elements were fictionalised to give the film more impact.

There are flaws, of course, as there are in many of Russell’s sprawling, quirky feature films.

Some of the characters border on caricatures and the plot unashamedly toys with your emotions – taking you to great, tear-jerking heights before plunging you into far-fetched moments of despair.

In a way, it’s a modern-day fairytale with Joy as the princess locked in the tower, her family as the evil stepsisters and her business adversaries as the villains.

Even better – there’s no prince in this fairytale and the movie passes the Bechdel Test with flying colours.

The erratic trailers for Joy have done little to build on the film’s soft buzz. They’re confusing and give a very vague idea of what the film is about, nor the fact that it’s essentially a comedy, not a drama.

In a way, this ambiguity works in the film’s favour because the less you know about Joy, the better.

To sell it as the story of the woman who invented a cool mop would convey a level of banality that may deter some moviegoers. Better to go in blind and be pleasantly surprised.

This is the feel-good movie of the year. Do yourself a favour and see it.

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