A darkly insightful evocation of the post-industrial era, Joy, PA tells the story of a family teetering on the precipice of ruin. The Augenbaughs live in a broken and decaying town where the last vestiges of country-club wealth run up against the terrible realities of working-class poverty. Abigail, a fervent believer in the apocalyptic teachings of a radio preacher, is desperate to save her son from Judgment Day as she readies herself for the Rapture-due to arrive in just a few days. Her husband, Burns, has moved to the basement to live out his days in a medicated stupor, unable to cope with memories of his service in Iraq. Caught between the suffering of his mother and father, ten-year-old Willie fights the inherited demons that have savaged his parents' tenuous grasp on reality.
The somber drama surrounding the Augenbaughs plays out with a piercing and commanding lyrical beauty. Both transfixing and disconcerting, Steven Sherrill's empathetic portrait of alienation elicits hope and sympathy amidst shattered but no-less-dignified lives.