Judging from the slightly grim-looking first teaser trailer, I never thought a film about the woman who invented the miracle mop could be so funny and inspiring…

The Story

Joy tells the true story of an American businesswoman and self-made millionaire called Joy Mangano. The film starts in 1989 when Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) works several jobs to keep her family afloat (two kids and a wannabe-musician-ex-husband who lives in her basement).

Her own parents separated when Joy was a kid. Her mum (Virginia Madsen) now lives in Joy’s house. However, all she does all day long is watching soap operas on TV and feeling sorry for herself.

Mum watching her soap opera. Photo: © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox

Mum watching her soap opera. Photo: © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox

As we learn in the beginning of the film, Joy’s dad (Robert De Niro) lent his daughter the necessary money to take up the mortgage of her house. In return, Joy skipped college and now works part-time in her father’s garage.

Dad moving in. Photo: © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox

Dad moving in. Photo: © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox

One day, Joy remembers her talent for inventing things. Out of a necessity, she invents the so-called miracle mop – the first mop that you can wring out and clean without having to touch it! But even though the TV advertising channels promise fast sales, things don’t go as planned and Joy soon finds herself sitting on a large amount of debt…

The Location

Most of the filming took place in rural Massachusetts in the snowy winter of February 2015. The film is set, however, in Quogue – a small village on the South tip of Long Island in the state of New York. Now incorporated in the Town of Southampton, the area is near the shoreline prominently known as The Hamptons – the popular country escape of the rich and famous.

There is also a scene in which Joy is driving to the shopping channel’s headquarters in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and sees a couple of Amish horse buggies. As many Amish people live here, the area is referred to as “Amish Country”.

Boston, Massachusetts © Sonja Irani /

Boston, Massachusetts © Sonja Irani /

The Performance

Much of the film which is told in flashbacks from the perspective of Joy’s grandmother. I thought that this narrative fitted the film perfectly as this creates a distance to the main character Joy and helps the audience to connect what's currently happening to the past. The slightly unusual use of music (often a song started while the the actors were still speaking) added some joy, too.

Last but not least, the cast made a lasting impression. Jennifer Lawrence provided yet another outstanding performance, her film dad Robert De Niro pulled off a great Broadway accent and Bradley Cooper (although not romantically linked to Lawrence this time) rocked those 1990’s suits as a rigorous, but also empathetic Marketing Manager.

Bradley and Jennifer re-united. Photo: © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox

Bradley and Jennifer re-united. Photo: © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox

Director David O. Russel (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) did it again: He created a drama, which nevertheless has a lot of funny moments in it that really made me laugh.

What the audience is left with at the end is the realization that even a desperate housewife with two small kids (the real Joy even had three) and a bunch of other people that are dependent on her, can actually make her dreams become a reality.

My verdict: Go, girl power! And long live the American Dream!

***** 5 out of 5 stars

Was Joy just as inspiring for you as it was for me? Let me know in the comments below!

About The Author

I am an ex London expat now living back in Germany. My second home is the cinema. If you don't find me there I am probably travelling the world in order to trace my favourite film settings while trying to stay on a budget. On, I combine these two passions to share my best tips about film-inspired budget travel. Join the journey on Twitter! @filmfantravel

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