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Joy


It's been a long time since I've seen a film that made me feel as many emotions in two hours as David O. Russell's JOY.

I had moments during the two hour journey where I was questioning whether that was a good thing or a bad, but more on that later.

The reliably good Jennifer Lawrence stars as Joy, a New Jersey housewife with an ex-husband named Tony in the basement, her mother Terry (Virginia Madsen) in a bed just off the living room and perfectly healthy but rarely leaving her soap operas, her grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd) and Joy's two children.

Robert DeNiro shows up as her father Rudy, now divorcing again and deciding he has to live with her too.

Her job as an Eastern Airlines ticket agent is frustrating, her home life's a disaster and yet she remains the most mature member of her family, holding them all together.

The film flashes back to show glimpses of Joy's childhood, showing a young girl constantly inventing and using her imagination.

When imagination strikes again and Joy creates the first twist mop, the film follows her quest to sell it to grocery stores and her incessant drive to create a massive new consumer product.

For anyone that's worked in the retail channel like I have most of my life, the scenes of her selling to Kmart Corporate and grocery chains will bring equal pain and laughs.

Joy eventually finds herself in the lobby of the brand new emerging cable channel called QVC, with a very short window to pitch Neil Walker (Bradley Cooper) to appear on the channel.

Joy's path is riddled with family members supportive and not, including several ungrateful idiots who drove me nearly mad in one part of the film in their reaction to Joy's success.

The last hour of the film is a powerful ride from moments of triumph, to the depths of sadness, to the heights of joy, in a seemingly circular rotation between them all.

If Joy's eventual destination on that path seems somewhat less satisfying than her first moments of true success, we can blame that on the real tempos of life versus the well penned screenplay by Russell.

DeNiro is excellent, Lawrence is terrific and Edgar Ramirez is a real standout as her ex, a lounge singer with a lot of heart.

Inspired by a true story, there are moments here that are among my favorites of the past year.

But as I mentioned earlier, some of the dark moments are such deep fall that I began to wonder if I was really enjoying the film.

Only when it was finished could I realize that any movie that made me feel that connected to Joy's journey was a true step above typical Hollywood product.

First with 'Silver Linings Playbook" and then "American Hustle" and now with JOY, Russell has created a group of characters with real flaws and real trials.

It's a tribute to his talents that spending two hours with them can be so rewarding.

Perfectly named in its best moments, JOY gets an A.

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