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Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Isabella Rossellini, Virginia Madsen, Diane Ladd, Elisabeth Röhm, Susan Lucci, Donna Mills, Ken Howard

Director: David O Russell

Right from the start, Russell's film is indeed a joy. A clever child and high school valedictorian, Joy (Lawrence) makes things, while her dysfunctional family revolves around her.

There's wise old Gran (Ladd), who tells the (true) story, mother (Madsen), forever watching daytime soap on TV (guest shots from Lucci, Mills and others), while Mom's ex (De Niro) and Joy's ex, a Venezuelan singer (Ramirez) are forced to share the (admittedly capacious) basement.

By this time, Joy has two kids and has started inventing things, the latest of which is a super-mop, with detachable, washable head.

When a TV ad company headed by Neil Walker (Cooper) botches the selling of it, Joy persuades him to give her a second chance, with herself as the salesgirl. After a hesitant start, sales go through the roof, and she she gets her father's latest paramour (Rossellini) to bankroll her new company.

Things go badly wrong, however, no little thanks to her interfering half-sister (Röhm), but Joy, though forced to declare bankruptcy,
is not beaten...

Lawrence is up for this one all right, and Russell's glorious screenplay wastes not a single word in the telling of Joy's story. His direction, too, is right on the mark, making every scene tell, and, when appropriate, letting Gran's narration carry the story.

True, there's a good deal of 'That's Life' feelbad in what finally emerges as one hell of a feelgood story.

David Quinlan

USA 2015. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by FotoKem.
124 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 28 Dec 2015