David O’Russell has a knack for showing on screen what we all dread about family holidays. The awkward slighting jilting stomach churning honest moments that most of us run from show up there, on the big screen, and I’m never quite over them the first time. Yes, and Robert De Niro is every dad at best and worst moments.The Silver Linings director offers real-to-life hand-cam perspectives, inside scoops, and deliciously complex…cartoon characters. Almost caricatures. We love them for their hearts mired deep in the muck of their flaws. We love them because we don’t know them. We get to watch the ditches they dig fill up with possibilities. They have potential and they win on some level, so we go back in for another dose as soon as he releases one.Joy begins perfectly. Set up, character development, story, buy in and build. The soap opera scenes stand alone as genius.
Then we wait.
We wait for Jennifer to show that quirky side we all now know she has. We wait for her to see the pit she’s standing in. We wait for those who join her in the pit to realize the pain they’re puting her through.
We wait and continue waiting. Perhaps this director turned a corner with Joy and decided to give us real lives instead of story, people instead of characters. I know this feels like a harsh critique, but I think he can handle it. I left feeling like I’d been standing at a bus stop with strangers for just a bit too long. Joy makes us wait like we do in life. We wait for ideas, for momentum, for opportunities. Sadly, some will relate more to the forgettable sister who is brewing and backstabbing rather than delighting in supporting a sister who carries them all.
We wait for the Dylan song from the perfect trailer that made us go see the movie in the first place.We wait for payoff …until the very end, but by then we are tired and older because it is a long movie.