Jennifer Lawrence in Joy (2015)

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Love her or hate her, I think one thing we can agree on is that Jennifer Lawrence is having the career that every aspiring starlet wants. Besides being a part of The Hunger Games AND X-Men franchise, she is also a four-tie Oscar nominee with one win. And by the looks of things, I don’t think she is losing momentum – I foresee nomination 5 coming pretty soon.

I am not really sure what to feel about her personally. Just for your information, I actually think she deserved her Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook (no apologies there, enjoyed that performance a lot), and she would have been a worthy winner for Winter’s Bone as well. And then came American Hustle, which felt really off to me, and also the obvious miscasting in X-Men, where Mystique becomes this wooden and bored character. On the other hand, I thought she was a really good Katniss. So all in all, my feelings about her are kinda mixed but I would say the good definitely outshines the bad. I think she is talented and a good actress, I just don’t think they should try turning her into the next Meryl Streep.

I was pretty surprised that Joy got such negative reviews. I thought it was a watchable and decent film. David O. Russell is an overrated director (and massive douche),  but I feel like such character driven films are actually his forte. Yes, Joy isn’t perfect – there are a lot of lines that feel incredibly contrived and the supporting characters – wtf? Virginia Madsen plays an unbelievable and pointless character, and the rest of the supporting cast play one-dimensional roles that are more like caricatures than anything else. Even Bob DeNiro’s character feels pretty forced and exaggerated to me. The earlier dream sequences are also kinda pretentious and weird, but as a whole, I actually found the whole thing pretty entertaining.

One reason why Joy managed to work for me was because of Jennifer Lawrence. I found her presence really magnetic here, and it feels like she is the only actor who is really trying to turn her character into an actual human being. The best part of her performance is how she takes the viewers through this emotional journey and her struggles to enter the cut-throat world of business. Seriously, some moments of her performance were so good that I actually got the chills – that “stupid idea!” breakdown comes to mind. Throughout the whole performance, I really felt for Joy – her nervousness when selling the mop, her terror when blanking out in front of the camera, her frustration at her absolutely vile family members, her tenderness with her children (She is much more convincing at being a mother here than in American Hustle – props to her!). It isn’t a complex character or performance – and it isn’t supposed to be either. Joy is a simple woman with brilliant ideas, and Lawrence makes us root for her as she chases her dreams.

I guess the minor issues I have with the performance is that the writing pulls her down a little at times. In her defense, Lawrence has always been a good enough actress to pull off these weird and nonsensical moments that D.O.R likes to throw into his movies. However, it just takes away the credibility of her acting at times, especially given how realistic her acting is. When she goes into this Al Pacino mode and Joy suddenly acts like some mafia head, it comes off as a bit funny to me. The worst part is this brief flash-forward sequence where Joy is shown to be an incredibly successful and powerful boss. The wig is fake looking, and I’m sorry, it just looks like Jennifer is dressing up as an older lady to me. She speaks in this slow manner to show how Joy is now this powerful, wise and benevolent woman, but it’s just kinda ridiculous. I don’t really know what D.O.R is going for here.

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I’ll be incredibly surprised if that’s her real hair

However, at the end of the day, I myself was pretty surprised at how much I enjoyed Jennifer Lawrence’s work here. It really shows her natural acting talents, which was never technically perfect, but filled with emotional honesty. I thought a 4/5 would have been deserving but the brilliant moments are so good that she is a 4.5/5 for me.

Also,decided to upgrade Charlotte Rampling to a 5. Her performance really grew on me over the past few days.

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