JOY Trailer: David O. Russell Is Part of the Problem

Russell wields Jennifer Lawrence like an ageist weapon in his latest Scorsese knockoff.

There are some issues with this trailer for David O. Russell's Joy, the biopic of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano. I'll let that sentence sink in with you for a moment because I know it sounds a bit odd. Far be it for us to judge films based solely on trailers, but there's a glaring issue present for anyone with even passing familiarity with Mangano's story: she was a single mother in her mid-30s when she invented the Miracle Mop. Jennifer Lawrence is 24.

I love Lawrence, and like the rest of you I would follow her to the ends of the earth (the ends of the earth in this instance being a David O. Russell film - or three), but this isn't really about her. Her performance in Joy will certainly be great, and she'll certainly earn another Oscar nomination, which is exactly what Russell wants, having hitched his wagon to our most beloved national treasure in the hopes that her Oscar (and generally widespread) favoritism will rub off on him.

Russell is the problem here - as with American Hustle, Joy looks like another attempt to ape Scorsese. As someone on Twitter pointed out to me: he couldn't make a mob movie, so he made a mop movie. This is the story of a woman who invented the Wonder Mop, but the tone and style read like a crime drama that's thematically preoccupied with the American dream. And then there's the use of the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want." If his mimicry were any more evident I might sprain my eyes from rolling them too hard.

But that's not even his biggest transgression - blatantly aping Scorsese is fine; directors emulate far more prolific directors all the time. The biggest issue with the trailer is, as aforementioned, the age gap between Lawrence and Mangano.

Ageism is a real issue in Hollywood, and like dry land, it is not a myth. Middle-aged actresses struggle to find roles suitable for their talents every single day, while younger actresses are constantly cast as the romantic interest for men twice their age. Russell is part of the problem. Lawrence is ten years younger than Mangano, and there are numerous actresses that could have played the role just as well as Lawrence - actresses who are of appropriate age. This isn't the first time Russell has cast Lawrence to age down a role: in Silver Linings Playbook, the character was originally written as a 39-year-old widow, and in American Hustle, Lawrence was playing a character based on another middle-aged woman, Cynthia Marie Weinberg (changed to Rosalyn Rosenfeld in the film).

I can hardly be frustrated with Lawrence for continuing to work with Russell and take what she perceives as good parts. But I can be frustrated with Russell for perpetually aging down the roles of middle-aged women and taking parts away from actresses who struggle every day in a system that devalues them "at a certain age."

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