Dark and twisted: I Bring You Joy

Do you love seeing the inner workings of the brain of a dark character? Are you a fan of You, Black Swan, Compulsion and Night Crawler? I Bring Joy is perfect for you. 

Dark and twisted: I Bring You Joy

I Bring Joy directed by David Stuart Snell is an independent thriller film that I got the chance to see at London International Film Festival. It is about the loneliness of a big city, trauma, loss, creative ambitions, knife crimes and their dark effects on the unconscious mind.

Joy is a dancer in London who falls victim to knife crime and loses someone close to her. The trauma, pressures of daily life and failed ambitions unleash a violent desire for balance. This film is the perfect thriller with a social commentary about the knife crimes in London, and the racism, classism, and sexism in the media regarding the murders.

I just would like to start by saying that this film is BRILLIANT. Watching this film is a terrifyingly immersive experience. Everything about it is clever, well-thought and well-executed. At the Q&A session following the screening at LIFF, I was surprised to hear that David Stuart Snell wrote, directed AND filmed I Bring Joy.

Elena Rivers is an excellent actress. I was blown away by her performance, as Joy is a highly complex character to bring to life and she delivered it masterfully. Although Joy is a murderous character, with her experience of injustice in the world and witnessing the constant indifference of media to the murders of black males as ‘just another gang knife crime,’ the audience feels an inevitable sympathy towards this anti-hero vigilante.

The film has an interesting timeline that at times could get a little complicated to follow. There is a skilful use of flashbacks of the moment of her loss in relation to her present experiences, which represents her trauma, while slowly revealing her motives to the audience. The scenes where time was more difficult to understand were the earlier scenes of her speaking with her secret confidant. In the first half of the movie, it was difficult to tell whether those scenes were one conversation or multiple.

The mirror scenes, however, with their context and timing were my absolute favourite. I love how it represents this movie as a conversation between the inner and outer self, and the actions being a reflection of inner pain. It’s sophisticated touch to use Shakespeare's quotes in the mirror scenes to reflect on the experiences and motives of the character.

As a writer and as someone who moved to London for ambitions, I also want to specifically talk about the depiction of the exhaustion of trying to hold onto goals. Joy’s rapid mood swings depending on her accomplishments and the difficulty of friendships in an environment of rivalry, on top of the harshness of the big city life are dealt with wonderfully. While Joy’s reactions to these pressures are out of the ordinary, the relatability of these motives forms a dilemma for the audience.

The genius of David Stuart Snell and the impressive talent of Elena Rivers makes an amazing collaboration and I am eager to see what the two, individually, will do in the future.

Follow them on Instagram to catch future screenings: @ibringjoythefilm


Aysel Dilara Kasap

Aysel Dilara Kasap Voice Reviewers

I am a writer, the editor-in-chief of the non-profit creative writing website Feather Pen and a publishing hopeful. I am passionate about books while being a music and theatre enthusiast and generally enjoying all forms of art.

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