starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Bradley Cooper
screenplay by David O. Russell
directed by David O. Russell
by Walter Chaw After demonstrating with his last few movies that he's not Martin Scorsese, David O. Russell has decided to kill two birds with one stone by demonstrating that he is neither Wes nor P.T. Anderson, either. In Joy, he proves that marrying Wes Anderson's whimsical solipsism with P.T. Anderson's Pynchon-esque biographical sketches is an amazingly stupid thing to do--one of those science experiments in '50s B-movies that everyone knows is a bad idea except for the idiot doing the splicing. Yes, Joy is that bad. When it's not being unbearably twee, it's perving on Jennifer Lawrence like von Sternberg on Dietrich. But Joy ain't no Blue Angel, and while I like Lawrence fine, I guess, Russell is sure as hell no von Sternberg. What I'm saying is that Russell is a terrible, glitchy director with a thing for Lawrence that he manifests by shooting her walking towards the camera with sunglasses, without sunglasses, with a wig and without a wig, in slow-motion or at normal speed, in daytime, nighttime; he lights her with the sun, with spots, with discretes, from below, and especially from behind--all in a kind of PENTHOUSE glamour. The only part of Joy that isn't unwatchable is a sequence shot precisely like identical sequences in P.T. Anderson's Magnolia, where an obviously tense Bradley Cooper, playing QVC programming director Neil Walker, shows the titular domestic goddess Joy (Lawrence) around the studio. I take it back, those were pretty bad, too. The only thing preventing Joy from being the worst movie of the year is that Pixels happened.