I Bring Joy Image

I Bring Joy

By Bobby LePire | February 23, 2024

I Bring Joy is a neo-noir thriller written and directed by David Stuart Snell. It follows Joy (Elena Rivers), an aspiring actress and dancer. In rehearsals, she has a few friends, though a rival, Meghan (Verity Hayes), pushes Joy to her limit, physically and emotionally. Joy is more reserved outside of ballet, haunted by a past tragedy.

Joy goes for a stroll one evening and is mugged. However, she fends off the criminal and stabs him to death. Instead of going to law enforcement to explain what happened, she goes home and is dazed for a few days. The feeling of power that Joy felt when she ended that scum’s life invigorates her, causing her to dance better than she ever has before. So, Joy goes out most evenings, searching for the vilest men to take down, while the news and police blame the stabbings on an uptick of rival gang activity. She confesses her sins to The Babe (Bernice Pike), a cam girl whose conversations are confidential. Will Joy get away with her murder spree, or will she cross the wrong person and face the deadly consequences of her actions?

I Bring Joy is a slick-looking thriller. The cinematography captures the grime and beauty of inner London wonderfully. The neon lights cast bursts of color across the homicidal acts committed under the cover of night. The soft lighting of Joy’s only solace, dance rehearsals, juxtaposes mightily against the scenes of her murdering would-be muggers and rapists. Whatever the budget for this film, it is all up on screen, seen in every light and shadow that dance with each other for 93 minutes.

“…Joy goes out most evenings, searching for the vilest men to take down, while the news and police blame the stabbings on an uptick of rival gang activity.”

Rivers is magnetic in her debut (according to IMDb). She conveys vulnerability, confusion, joy, and delight in equal measure most believably. She makes Joy easy to root for, and viewers want her to get away with every crime she commits because the character is relatable and likable. Hayes is a great foil for Rivers. She commands her scenes, is boastful, and just the right amount of annoying versus impressive. A late in the film scene sees Joy and Meghan finally get to know each other, and the two actors play off each other perfectly.

However, I Bring Joy does have a few flaws. The subplot involving local sneaker entrepreneur Floyd (Daniel Blake) goes nowhere fast. The actor is fine, and Joy’s first encounter with Floyd is cute, but the character could be excised from the final product. Cutting him out means only one scene would need to be very minorly rewritten, and the rest of Floyd’s story would not be missed at all.

Even worse is the ending. To be more specific, the finale hinges on Joy needing to leave her flat to answer a reporter’s question at the main door. Why must she exit her place when her video intercom works just fine? It strains credibility and takes audience members out of the story. There’s a way to keep all the beats of the conclusion (i.e., what happens to whom and when/how) without making Joy an utter idiot for 10 seconds.

I Bring Joy has a wholly unnecessary subplot, and the setup for the ending is not all that believable. But the filmmaker wrings out a lot of tension and intrigue before then. The sumptuous cinematography gorgeously captures the neon lights that drown out the shadows of this noir. The cast, led by a powerful turn from Rivers, is excellent. While flawed, Snell is certainly a director to keep an eye on.

For more information, visit the I Bring Joy Facebook page.

I Bring Joy (2024)

Directed and Written: David Stuart Snell

Starring: Elena Rivers, Verity Hayes, Bernice Pike, Daniel Blake, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

I Bring Joy Image

"…led by a powerful turn from Rivers..."

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