Joy (2015, USA, Russell)

Joy‘s Godmother

This film follows Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence), a single mother of two, who also lives with her separated parents and her ex-husband. She is destined for greatness, according to the voiceover of her grandmother, and although based on a true story, and inspired by other women’s similar situations, her entry into the world of business seems unreal.

I do have a few areas to comment on, and I hope I don’t provide any spoilers too great.

The film’s main advertisement poster is a close-up of Lawrence’s head looking upwards with sunglasses covering up any expression she may have, and her short blonde bob falling backwards, with her long neck becoming the main focus of the frame. The exposure of this vulnerable area of her body is striking, while it maintains a certain level of distance between the character and her would-be audience – we do not know what she is looking at nor how she feels about this. She is called Joy, the film is called Joy, and yet she displays none for the spectator – none yet anyway.

Things I am a fan of in this film mainly consist of Lawrence’s hair and wardrobe choices. Joy rocks shirts and trousers, and she is a fan of understated and un-overly-feminine fashion. Her character sticks to her own style while the TV pros try to manipulate her into becoming more pleasing on the eye for their audiences.

Joy is a progressive female character since she rejects the idea that beauty and sex are the only available sales tools. She uses her words and powerfully demonstrates her product – a self-rinsing mop – much to the surprise of both her main boss-man Neil (Bradley Cooper) and herself. Where a phallic-shaped object, such as a mop, being held by a young blonde woman, such as Joy, could be exploited to make sales happen, Joy instead puts it all on the line and sells it comfortably as herself. She uses her own passion for and knowledge of her invention to gain success. Her semi-androgynous look and avoidance of her own objectification adds to her ability to become a businesswoman in her own right, without selling her soul or her female form in the process.

Joy soon becomes a matriarch in a kind of ‘Godmother’ fashion due to her mop design’s eventual success. People consequently come to her for financial help and she makes them offers they cannot, and would not want to, refuse – Joy brings them joy.

(Image: Film Police, 15/07/15)

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