Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Lawrence Carries Ambitious 'Joy'

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Lawrence Carries Ambitious 'Joy'

Article excerpt

Jennifer Lawrence is a force, whether as the hero of "The Hunger Games or the overburdened, inventive single mother she plays in "Joy." The Oscar winner is in every frame of David O. Russell's new film, shining even among a star-studded cast with a performance that brings continuity to the writer-director's ambitious but flawed story about the dogged persistence of a determined entrepreneur.

Lawrence plays the title character, Joy, whose last name is never revealed but who's based on real-life home-shopping magnate Joy Mangano, creator of the Miracle Mop and an executive producer of the film. Text onscreen at its opening says it is "inspired by true stories of daring women, one in particular.

Russell's eighth feature film (and third collaboration with Lawrence) introduces Joy in the years before she makes herself a millionaire. Working in a meaningless job, she struggles as the financial and emotional center of a dysfunctional, multigenerational family. She lives in a crumbling house with her grandmother (Diane Ladd), her soap-opera obsessed mom (Virginia Madsen), along with her two children and her ex-husband, who lives in the basement.

Flashbacks and daydreams show Joy as a bright, imaginative child who reluctantly followed a more conventional path when family responsibilities took hold. But when a flash of inspiration hits after years of life dissatisfaction, she bets her future on it.

With moral support from her grandmother and ex-husband, seed money from her father's wealthy girlfriend (Isabella Rossellini), and a glimmer of hope from a QVC executive (Bradley Cooper), Joy stakes everything she has on her new invention: a self-wringing mop with a machine-washable head.

Along the way, she experiences elation and despair, personally and professionally. Lawrence brings all the power and intensity required to portray a devoted mother and fierce businesswoman growing up through her 30s, even if the actress looks sweetly youthful throughout. It's her fire and range that speaks. …

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