What could be more exciting and more worthy of a dramatic film than the invention of a brand new mop? A drama about train spotting? How about categorising beetle species or concrete pouring techniques?
This isn’t any old mop though, oh no, this is a miracle mop!
Unlike most awesome miracles this mop doesn’t make you cure the blind, walk on water or turn said water into wine (although if it did I’d buy one yesterday!) this mop has the miraculous ability to wring itself which, admittedly, is all together less exciting than wine water.
Still, this is Writer-Director David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) pairing with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper again, only this time Robert De Niro is also on board so what could go wrong?
Well, for a start, it’s a drama about a mop. Not that that should matter – I’m sure that there have been excellent dramas about the mundane – but it does matter because it hardly captures the imagination like a cold war negotiator – the last true story I saw at the cinema. I think David O. Russell is well aware of this because the mop isn’t often the centre of attention instead focusing on the titular Joy and her close family.
Jennifer Lawrence plays Joy Mangano; a woman who gave up her ambitions of inventing things in order to help with her father’s business and essentially be the only one who keeps the family semi-functional.
It’s actually J-Law’s performance which is one of the only truly great things to take away from Joy as her performance totally outshines almost everyone including a criminally under-utilised Robert De Niro who could be compared to an ice-cream truck; making a lot of a noise as he enters and then disappearing from memory until the next time he shows up.
Because the writing doesn’t make good use of any other family member the film fails to build dramatic tension around what should have been the story’s keystone. Even the most intriguing family member Mimi (Diane Ladd), Joy’s nan, dies half way through the film yet still continues to narrate the rest of the film which is all a bit odd. The family needed to be a really strong part of the story rather than what it ended up being which was seemed to be a mild inconvenience for Joy. Because of this the film has to rely on the Miracle Mop (Joy’s first invention) to make keep you interesting due to un-relatable characters.
Once Joy has invented her new miracle mop she tries to sell it at local hardware stores and super/hypermarkets without much success. It’s here that the film finally picks up a bit as we meet Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper) who offers a chance to sell her mop on QVC which is a revolutionary new way of selling products. Whilst not overly interesting in itself it does provide a fascinating viewing platform from which to observe the world of tele-shopping; a glorious world of subliminal messaging, peer pressure and consumerism are laid bare for all to see.
Once the QVC segment has run its course we are back into more dreary family drama around bankruptcy and patent ownership which, like my mum, takes too long to get to any sort of point. If the film had wrapped up quickly after Joy had made her appearance on QVC it might have felt a bit rushed but in my opinion would have been preferable as you do at least end shortly after some sort of high point.
Apart from Jennifer Lawrence the only other redeemable feature is that there is an Indie quality to the film. Slightly bizarre, slightly quirky, mildly charming yet the film doesn’t lean far enough into this aesthetic to make it truly leftfield meaning it is unable to… mop up… the other messy areas of the film. It probably won’t be much of a surprise to hear that the film ends up being a bland, by the numbers drama. In fact; you could say that the film is… Joyless…
No. You stay and I’ll go. Taxi for one!
The Good, The Bad & The Outcome
+ Jennifer Lawrence
+ Nice Indie aesthetic
+ Interesting glimpse at the world of telly-shopping
– Quite bland
– Too long
– Difficult to invest in the characters