Joy

David O. Russell’s best films are the ones that touch you emotionally, like Joy does. It is not always easy to cheer for a movie character, but Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) inspires audience hopes and dreams. She is an empowered woman.

The characters who populate Joy’s world add life and humanity to Joy. Her father Rudy (Robert DeNiro) moves in with Joy when his second wife dumps him. Joy puts him in her basement where he has to share digs with Joy’s ex-husband Tony (Edgar Ramirez). Her mother (Virginia Madsen) spends most of each day perched in her bed watching soap operas. Grandma Mimi (Diane Ladd) is the film’s narrator.

Rudy finds a new girlfriend, Trudy (Isabella Rossellini). When Joy mops up spilled wine on her Trudy’s boat, she gets glass shards in her hands. This leads the clever Joy to make her own mop that she can wring out without touching it. Soon, she is making the “Miracle Mops” in dad’s garage and selling them wherever she can.

Trudy, a widow whose husband left money behind, helps Joy fund her company so she can make the mops. Joy’s big break comes when the fledgling QVC channel agrees to sell the mops. QVC honcho Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper) tells Joy to prepare to deliver 50-thousand mops. But the segment is a mop flop.

She convinces Walker to let her do the segments herself. A friend conspires to call in and tout the product. Sales skyrocket.

But more trouble awaits as suppliers try to take advantage of her. And a man who claims to have registered a similar product wants royalties for each sale. Joy faces the challenges head on and emerges triumphant.

The only thing about the story that’s baffling is Joy’s lack of romance as she takes care of business. Her ex is in the picture, but as a friend, not a lover.

Jennifer Lawrence is at her best in portraying this woman who accomplishes what she needs to get done, while others around her seem to be going through the motions of life. At the young age of 25, J-Law is more convincing as a mature woman in Joy than she is as a young warrior in the Hunger Games films.

Joy is a feel good movie for grownups. And, after the year that some of us have experienced, this upbeat story is exactly what many of us need. Big thanks to writer/Director David O. Russell and well as to Jennifer Lawrence for Joy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Linings Playbook

“Silver Linings Playbook” has it all: love, laughter, tears, mental illness, football, dancing and gambling. It more than lives up to its advance buzz. The story, the characters and the telling of the story are all compelling. Go see this movie!

Bradley Cooper plays Patrick, a man who’s just spent several months in a mental health treatment center after severely injuring his wife’s lover. For now, he’s staying with his folks. He still loves his wife but can’t see her, due to a restraining order. A friend invites him over for dinner where he meets a young widow, Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence.

Tiffany also has mental health issues. Following her husband’s death, she received therapy and medications. She and Patrick become friends and she asks him to be her partner in a dance competition.

Meanwhile, Patrick’s dad, played by Robert DeNiro, is revealed to have anger issues of his own—he’s been permanently banned from Philadelphia Eagles home games for fighting in the stands. Dad is a guy who’s lost his job and has turned to bookmaking to get by.

The interaction between these characters and others in the film will break your heart one minute and make you laugh out loud the next. David O. Russell wrote the script and directed the movie. He directed 2010’s wonderful “The Fighter,” which was notable for similar family dynamics. (“SLP” is set in suburban Philly, while “The Fighter” was set in Lowell, Massachusetts.)

The resolution of “Silver Linings Playbook” is satisfying for many reasons, which I dare not reveal here. Just go see this movie!

Sadly, a TV spot for the movie reveals one of the film’s key turning points. I hate when that happens. I encourage you to avoid any TV ads or online trailers before you see “SLP.”

“Silver Linings Playbook” is among this year’s best. Expect award nominations for Cooper and Lawrence and maybe DeNiro. Russell should get a nom for best adapted script and, possibly, best director. Best picture? It should make that list, too.