Movies to watch this week at the cinema: Joy, Sleeping With Other People, more…

Out on Friday 1 January

Jennifer Lawrence is top of the mops. Eddie Redmayne transforms for a role. Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis are friends with conversational benefits. Yes, heres this weeks new releases. Click on for our reviews of Joy, The Danish Girl, Sleeping With Other People, Le Mpris, Fall Of The Krays and At Any Price. For the best movie reviews, subscribe to Total Film (opens in new tab).


As Steve Jobs taught us last year, biopics dont have to be staid, predictable, cradle-to-grave dramas. Well, David O. Russell couldnt do staid if he tried. Going into this tale of Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop, on a serious (or rather seriocomic) hot streak thats brought us The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbookand American Hustle, Russell again corrals his repertory troupe of Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, and once more marries a fizzily anarchic style to emotional substance. Narrated, fairytale-like, by grandmother Mimi (Diane Ladd), who wishes for her granddaughter to grow to be the successful matriarch you were born to be, Joy pitches us into the chaotic life of the eponymous divorcee (Lawrence), living with her two kids, a bed-hugging, soap-viewing mother (Virginia Madsen), said grandma, and, residing in the basement, her cantankerous father (De Niro) and unemployed ex-husband (dgar Ramrez). She dreams of more than managing the accounts of her dads auto shop, and has a flash of inspiration while staring at her bleeding hands after hand-wringing the mop shes used to clean up a shattered glass of red wine. Yes, this is another of Russells fractured, fractious families, the full chaos of their pinballing, up-to-11 lives communicated by his redeployment of a hurtling camera, jump cuts and a generous serving of hit tunes on the soundtrack. Russells style is divisive, love it or loathe it, and many viewers might just wish he trusted in his heroines remarkable story rather than dress it up so forcefully. Alongside flashbacks and dream sequences, he also has a penchant for cutting into scenes, and leaving them again, in unusual places. Such sleight of hand fits con story American Hustle more snugly, and theres a sense that Russell is here straining to find his film four editors are credited. But find it he does, just, with any stutters galloped over with sheer brio. The ace up his sleeve, of course, is Jennifer Lawrence, giving a gritty, gutsy, bewitching performance thats the match of anything in her career. Her best scenes come when she again bounces off her Silver Linings and American Hustle co-star Cooper, here running the QVC channel that gets Joys self-wringing Miracle Mop into American homes. But shes fine on her own, thank you very much, carrying the picture. Dont be surprised if she wipes the floor with all competition to win her second Oscar. THE VERDICT: Not without glitches but an energetic study of one womans refusal to settle for anything less than her share of the American Dream. Director: David O. Russell Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Virginia Madsen, dgar Ramrez Theatrical release: 1 January 2016 Jamie Graham


The timing couldnt be better, really. In the year of Caitlyn Jenner and TVs Transparent, this handsome and sensitively played biopic about Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo gender-reassignment surgery, pushes all the right topical buttons. Recounting how 1920s Copenhagen artist Einar Wegener found his inner girl when he posed as Lili for his wife Gerdas daring portraits, it also provides a fine showcase for Eddie Redmaynes transformative powers. Like The Theory Of Everything, this is an outsider triumph-and-tragedy tale, with Redmaynes confused-but-determined Einar creating Lilis transition as carefully as one of his landscape paintings. To make the story relatable, the Wegeners stormy and unconventional marriage is put resolutely front and centre, all the way from newlywed gender-bending frolics in bedrooms and ballrooms to three people in this marriage anguish. Too bad that, unlike director Tom Hoopers Oscar-laden The Kings Speech, where an odd-couple friendship powers the story, Gerda and Einars bond proves more glamorous, but less moving. Performance power isnt lacking here Alicia Vikanders feisty Gerda, torn between helping Lili and losing Einar, gives it her all. Shes overshadowed, however, by Redmaynes delicate, androgynous performance, moving from shy experimenter to fully-fledged femme without a false move. Even those daring scenes in which Einar strips-and-tucks to conjure up Lili, or mimics a naked hookers seductive poses, are tender rather than titter-raising. By contrast, the Wegeners rows and reconciliations feel overwritten, the show-and-tell dialogue (I felt I was kissing myself!) just underlining whats already perfectly visible. And throwing Matthias Schoenaerts world-weary art-dealer Hans in between them ups the melodrama more than the excitement. The films considerable visual beauty at times overwhelms rather than offsets the drama. It creates a gorgeous setting for Redmaynes performance, but along with Alexandre Desplats lush, string-sobbing score, makes for a self-consciously rich mix. Thematically its all in the best possible taste, careful not to upset either multiplex viewers or the transgender community with anything crass or edgy. While admirably spotlighting Lilis bravery, the film does develop a faint whiff of well-dressed earnestness. A little less decorum wouldnt have hurt and would have made it a whole lot more fun. THE VERDICT: Eddie Redmayne shines as a transgender trailblazer. But a stiff love story and stately staging make this Danish too sweet Director: Tom Hooper Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Amber Heard, Ben Whishaw Theatrical release: 1 January 2016 Kate Stables


Can a man and a woman be platonic friends, asks writer/director Leslye Headlund (Bachelorette)? If it sounds familiar, its because When Harry Met Sally is the clear model for this acerbic romcom starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie. Even if these two arent quite Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan MK II, Sleeping With Other People comes on as a classy comedy of manners with a smart take on the modern dating scene. A brief prologue introduces us to Lainey (Brie) and Jake (Sudeikis), who enjoy a brief encounter in college. Twelve years later, theyre reacquainted at a sex addicts group therapy session, after both have just split from their latest squeezes. In the case of Lainey, shes still hung up on college crush Matthew (Adam Scott), a married doctor who isnt against the occasional hook-up with her. Lainey and Jake strike up a friendship, while resisting the urge to jump between the sheets (their safe word, if things get too hot n heavy, is mousetrap). Its not exactly well-balanced: Jakes issues, not least the frisson with his boss (Amanda Peet), dont really compare to Laineys problems as she moons over Matthew something to which the excellent Brie lends real weight. While Headlund doesnt shy away from sex or frank discussion, the humour isnt aimed below the belt (so to speak). That said, one scene involving a green-tea bottle if not quite as classic as Meg Ryans diner moment is still liable to wind up on both Brie and Sudeikis showreels for the rest of their lives. Sudeikis, to his credit, resists the urge to go Were The Millers broad. Ditto Brie, in the scene where an ecstasy-high Lainey dances to David Bowies Modern Love at a kids birthday party. Its a pity that mixing these moments with Sex And The City-style heart-to-hearts lends the film a wildly uneven feel. THE VERDICT: Neither romantic nor comic enough to be a great romcom, but still date-night worthy. The Brie/Sudeikis chemistry is citrus sharp. Director: Leslye Headlund Starring: Alison Brie, Jason Sudeikis, Adam Scott, Natasha Lyonne, Amanda Peet Theatrical release: 1 January 2016 James Mottram


Jean-Luc Godards 1963 classic is perhaps the quintessential film about film. Michel Piccoli plays a weak-willed screenwriter caught between director Fritz Lang (in a winning self-portrait), Hollywood producer Jack Palance and his own enigmatically contemptuous wife (Brigitte Bardot). Godard rhymes the making of a film with the unmaking of a marriage, achieving a haunting melancholy. Crucially, he realises that a movie-biz satire needs to outclass its targets between Raoul Coutards cinematography and Georges Selerues magisterial score, few films have achieved such elegance. Director: Jean-Luc Godard Starring: Brigitte Bardot, Jack Palance, Michel Piccoli Theatrical release: 1 January 2016 Simon Kinnear


More scrag end than legend, this follow-up to direct-to-video title The Rise Of The Krays revels sickeningly in the East End siblings brutality and treats their various slayings and beatings like a veritable greatest hits. A slender budget, though, largely reduces Zachary Adlers film to a series of yawn-worthy gab-athons in which Ronnie (Simon Cotton) and Reggie (Kevin Leslie) merely talk about the mayhem theyre about to unleash. It would be cartoonish if not so morally bankrupt and tasteless: even the pill-assisted suicide of Reggies wife Frances is recreated here for our dubious titillation. Director: Zackary Adler Starring: George Webster, Adrian Bouchet, Simon Cotton Theatrical release: 1 January 2016 Neil Smith


Made in 2012, Ramin Bahranis rural farmland drama may not match the punch of his recent repossession tale 99 Homes, but his interest in social inequality is equally evident. Dennis Quaid plays Iowa corn magnate Henry Whipple (brilliant name), who wants son dean (Zac Efron) to inherit the family biz. So far, so what but with Deans fondness for stock-car racing taking him to the track and Henrys dealings putting him under investigation, this poke around the American Dream boasts intelligence and integrity. The result is a loving, if far inferior, homage to Arthur Millers Death Of A Salesman. Director: Ramin Bahrani Starring: Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron, Kim Dickens Theatrical release: 1 January 2016 James Mottram

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