Joy is a tearjerker dramatizing the trials and tribulations of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano (the charming Jennifer Lawrence). Since the movie opens with a soap opera on television, it’s hard not to watch Joy through that prism. Just look at all the chips on Joy’s shoulders. Joy’s mom (Virginia Madsen) is confined to her bed, from where she watches soaps. Joy’s dad (Robert De Niro) is thrice divorced with a penchant for making scenes and messes that Joy cleans up. Joy is herself divorced; her ex-husband, having failed to become Tom Jones, lives in the basement. Joy has a troublesome half-sister, a rival for her dad’s attention. Besides her cute daughter, the only solicitous one is Joy’s grandmother (Diane Ladd), an angel in a house of demons tethering our heroine. Much of the domestic situation is fictitious, embellished to foment conflict. Fraught with shouting and screaming and screw-ups, Joy’s interior life is exhausting. Though no less dramatic, Joy’s exterior life, the business side of the story—the legal minutiae, the capitalist machinations, the behind-the-scenes peek into QVC—is fascinating.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White