Joy 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

The latest collaboration between director David O. Russell and star Jennifer Lawrence follows the story of Joy (Lawrence), a divorced mother of two, who takes care of her kids, her mother and sometimes her father and ex-husband. Her dreams of going to college and creating things with her hands were put on the backburner while she was taking care of her family, and she feels like she’s stuck in a rut until one day an idea hits her. The film follows Joy as she invents her product and deals with the issues of starting and running a small business. After much trial, error and brazen attitude, her business succeeds and she is able to help other ladies in her position.

Joy 4K Ultra HD

Sometimes a great actress can make an average movie seem better than it is and that’s the case with JOY. Make no mistake that Jennifer Lawrence is the reason that JOY is tolerable and her charisma and talent are what holds this film together. Even her supporting cast, which includes Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Virginia Madsen, didn’t do much for the film and they spent most of their time stepping back and letting Lawrence shine. David O. Russell is a great director, but sometimes his stories drag on too long and don’t really connect the audience with the characters on screen. With JOY, he spent too much time inserting the audience in the daily, boring life of Joy and I spent the first hour of the film feeling like I was watching my neighbors (not a good thing).

Joy 4K Ultra HD

Although the story of Joy is interesting, there was something about the character, her surrounding family support system and the story itself that was a little off-putting. Her mother, father and step-sister were obnoxious which was obviously the point, but it was this thing off in the background that made you pity and even dislike Joy because she couldn’t stand up and take more charge of her life that was being run by outside sources. That’s kind of the point as the film goes along, but the weight of her “supporting” cast brought the character down throughout the film.  Bradley Cooper adds a spark to the film when he shows up about halfway through, but he wasn’t utilized to the full extent that someone of his talent should be used.

Joy 4K Ultra HD

Although it’s admirable how the main character pulled herself up from such a disparate situation and took matters into her own hands in several instances and eventually became a success, the problem is that her journey was more frustrating than uplifting. Unfortunately, there was nothing terribly stand-out about the film and it leaves the audience feeling less than satisfied. I really like Jennifer Lawrence, I really like Bradley Cooper and I usually like David O. Russell, but JOY was a misfire and maybe a warning sign that Russell needs someone to keep him in check, even when he manages to assemble such a great cast.


Video:  JOY is an interesting disc to review on 4K because of the way it was filmed.  At first pass, it might feel like the 4K version is actually worse than the Blu-ray version, but that’s due to the almost 70’s style texture David O. Russell and cinematographer Linus Sandgren chose to present the visuals in JOY.  That means grain and other film textures are going to come through much more noticeably in the 4K release, but we also get more subtle detail such as in clothing and settings.  I prefer to watch movies the way directors intend and I believe this is what Russell wanted when he released JOY.  That said, those looking for a striking upgrade from 4K to Blu-ray may not get the results they’re looking for.

Audio: The audio was fine.

Joy, Strength and Perseverance (20:22) An interesting piece featuring some nice interviews with the cast and crew.

Times Talk with Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russell and Maureen Dowd (1:07:42) A very interesting interview conducted by Ms. Dowd that is worth watching if you are a fan of Lawrence and Russell’s work.

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