Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
David O. Russell (American Hustle) directs this quirky and mostly true story about Joy Mangano, the inventor of the first self-wringing mop. One might not think that a story about a household item would be worthy of a feature film, let alone watchable but the ensemble cast possesses just enough whimsy and force to keep your eyes happy. Russell's lively Pop Art direction too, helps immensely.
Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) is a woman under pressure. She likes working with her hands. Her mother always told her she would be a success, yet she is divorced with two kids. Her ex, Tony (Edgar Ramirez) and her father (Robert De Niro) live in the basement and fight constantly. Joy also lives with her agoraphobic mother (Virginia Madsen.) Day after day, Joy rushes to work behind an airport desk for Eastern Airlines, never knowing what domestic or financial obstacle will arrive upon her return.
One day, after she cuts herself on a boat trip, she gets an idea for an easy to use self-wringing mop with a detachable head that can be washed and used again, repeatedly. With her daughters crayons, Joy gets to work. While the details may appear mundane, Jennifer Lawrence is full of verve and heart. The actor carries the film almost single handedly.
The vibrant cinematography by Linus Sandgren presents the film as if it's about a gangster or an exotic race car, rather than a woman and a mop. Through it all, Joy Mangaro is plucky, driven and resolute. She simply won't take no for an answer.
Robert De Niro is believable, if quite predictable by now as the hot-head father who feels like he got the short end of the baseball bat. One can tell in an instant when he is going to snap and start smashing things, this is true, yet he acts the part.
Bradley Cooper is here once again as well as Neil Walker, a QVC shopping network executive who gives Joy a shot on TV, along with the spacey and somewhat surreal Isabella Rosselini as Trudi, Joy's father's girlfriend.
But in perhaps the most novel casting of all, Melissa Rivers appears in a cameo as her mother, the comedian Joan
Rivers. The stunning effect is at once haunted and heartfelt.
In the film, Neil Walker says that in the future "television will be about ordinary people." He was right.
The clever feint of "Joy" is that it gives us a woman who under many eyes would seem run of the mill, but she is imbued with the heart of a gangster in realizing her vision at any price.
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org