Joy (2015) by David O. Russel


It is offensive to suggest that any audience would be interested in the biography of a TV saleswoman. This is Hollywood celebrating consumerism disguised as humanism.

No character reflects any kind of human familiarity. Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop, shows the compassion of a killer whale and exudes the ingenuity of someone who can’t function without their coffee. Her heroic broadcast moment on The Shopping Channel is not an achievement, just a natural instinct of capitalist greed.

Love of family is reduced to sitcom dynamics (the older mother watches soaps in bed, then sleeps with the plumber), Jennifer Lawrence’s Spanish dialog spoken to her migrant workers is a pitiful attempt at pan-cultural inclusivity. While her ex-husband, a Colombian man, is a cliche of a Latin dance instructor. Their relationship with their mixed race daughter is devoid of any intercultural insight.

Bad jokes, cliches, maudlin sentimentality, hallmarks of middlebrow humanist pop disconnected from the social class it supposedly portrays. Jennifer Lawrence’s “I know what it’s like to be in that chair” supposedly references her character’s initial struggle, but leaves her own questionable business practices unexamined (when she threatens to blackmail an investor). To celebrate the quest for wealth, the shark tactics of capitalism, and the exploitation of migrant labor, under the banner of a humanist holiday film, should be a cultural crime.



Categories: female leads, Notes

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