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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Joy (review)

This Israeli film — from director Julie Shles — won multiple Academy Awards at home, including a Best Actress nod for star Sigalit Fuchs, but I must confess, I’m not seeing it. Oh, I get that it’s “real” and doesn’t sugarcoat the general misery of life, but it’s such a relentless downer, and with such little justification except, perhaps, that “down” films are more “genuine,” that I couldn’t warm up to it. Here we have Joy Levine, a schlubby 35-year-old who not only can’t get her life together, she doesn’t seem to want to: her married boyfriend treats her more like a sex toy than a human being, she lives in squalor, and her parents treat like the child she is. (I have to confess, I was astonished to learn Joy is supposedly 35; she acts more like a naive 22.) Her only hope: a reality TV show she manages to convince to throw a surprise party for her parents, so they can reconcile with friends they’ve been estranged from for decades. The parents are a joint misery, too: no wonder their friends abandoned them. If I were being generous, I’d say the film’s title is meant to be ironic, but I don’t think it is. Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette, trailer, and more. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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