White blouse and long pants. Like a high-wire walker, Joy balances femininity and professionalism, family and business, logic and love.
As an advocate for equal pay, Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence truly embraced her character as an unexpected but steadfast matriarch of a crazy family. To name a few, she has to deal with an ex-husband (Edgar Ramirez) who lives in their basement, a father (Robert de Niro) who was returned by his second wife, a mother (Virginia Madsen) obsessed with watching soap operas and the only saving grace, a grandmother (Diane Ladd) who fiercely instilled ambition in her.
The film has tantalizing visuals, clever use of dreams and TV scenes and inspiring musical scores. The story is scattered with flashbacks and fast-forwards, chaotic in nature, like mixing business with family. As messy as business can be, the trials and tribulations create an opportunity for Joy. It gives a reason to pursue her dream or rather, demands her to go back to the one thing where she felt most herself – creating through her hands.
Time passes and challenges become victories when she take matters to her own hands, her ingenious idea materialized into a product that becomes a business and this business becomes an empire. Through her innate creativity and incessant stubbornness, Joy shows anyone can rise from the depths of the earth with grace even when it’s muddy down there.
Stellar performances, sublime cinematography and an important cause – this historical drama is quite close to perfection. Almost, because there are questions on whether this film represented ‘white feminism’ and completely ignored ‘intersectional feminism’.
The intensity of emotions was magnificently captured and the music complemented the tone in every scene, whether a small triumph or unspeakable sorrow.
Carey Mulligan was electrifying in her role as Maud Watts, a suffragette whose life represented countless women that devoted their lives to the cause at grass-roots level. She participated in acts of defiance and serves time at prison during which force feeding was allowed. In the same vein, Helena Bonham Carter shined as Edith Ellyn, a more senior suffragette whose heart illness did not interfere with her relentless pursuit for justice.
Even with only a few minutes of screen time, Meryl Streep did not disappoint. Her eloquence, conviction and passion for the cause reflected that of the real Emmeline Pankhurst, an iconic British figure of the early 20th century suffrage movement.
These real women of courage were beautifully portrayed by these actresses. However there was an apparent lack of characters portraying women of colour, which has been termed “erasure” by critics. This is the cause of accusations on being racially insensitive on the part of modern day film makers. Historically accurate or not, the decision to exclude cultural diversity in the film was in my eyes, questionable.
Whilst bearing this issue in mind, this film remains powerful and heart-wrenching, visually captivating and emotionally raw. It delves into gender inequality, the daily challenges of ordinary women at the time when strength of human character was tested but never faltered.