I can’t imagine I was the only one felt a bit confused by the first trailer to Joy. Despite the film’s typically impressive cast – David O. Russell has once again brought back Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro to bicker onscreen for our amusement – it was hard to understand the kind of story that Joy was looking to tell. Was this a lighter, more comedic work like Russell’s I Heart Huckabee (still a personal favorite)? Or was this a darker biopic more in line with The Fighter? There is nothing wrong with watching a filmmaker try different tones with a talented cast, but the first Joy trailer hinted at a lack of internal cohesion. It seemed a bit like a beautiful mess.
Well, guess what: there is no such lack of clarity for Joy’s second trailer.
The first trailer for Joy focused on her role as the inventor of the Miracle Mop; somewhere along the way, someone must have decided that was a hard selling point for a holiday film. Gone are most of the references to the mop itself – except for a matter-of-fact statement by Joy’s daughter that they are working on something “very serious” – and in its place are references to violence, extortion, and dysfunctional families. Joy has a terrible relationship with her father and might have gotten in with the wrong people to help fund her manufacturing empire. In other words, all the things that make this film a more familiar part of David O. Russell’s oeuvre.
It’s hard to watch the new trailer for Joy and not think of Jennifer Lawrence’s recent comments on the gender gap in Hollywood. In fact, the trailer seems edited to bring out those kind of comparisons. Gone is the whimsy and slightness of the first theatrical release; here is Jennifer Lawrence as a mission-driven young woman who will reach out and take what she deserves, even if the people around her aren’t so willing to give it up. In the trailer’s final scene, with other characters boxing her into the very center of the shot, Joy warns her family that she will never let someone speak on behalf of her and her business ever again. Rather than shy away from the link between David O. Russell films, the studio seems determined to lean into them. Life imitating art imitating life.
Joy is set for release on Christmas Day 2015.