Honestly I did not know what to expect when I entered the movie theater on that cold rainy Friday night. The only thing I did know about the film I was about to see (Silver Linings Playbook) was that it had just received a slew of Academy Awards nominations. I sat in my seat rearing to go.
After 2 hours, would I declare this a hit or a miss? Read down further to find out …
We open by meeting Pat (Bradley Cooper) as he is being treated in a facility for what we find out is a previously undiagnosed mental ailment – which itself is the aftermath of engaging in a disturbing manic act, one that may have otherwise landed him in the slammer. Now released to the custody of his mother and father (Jackie Weaver and Robert DeNiro) he is determined to reclaim that life taken away from him. Enter Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) recently widowed and sister to Pat’s estranged wife’s friend (played by Julia Stiles). Pat and Tiffany are two people meet at a very low point in each other’s lives and are trying to fight their way through their troubles. As the movie progresses, the idea that they might just get there if they work together and support each other.
Sounds heavy, right? Well, in the end what you have in this film that is a variety pack: a romantic comedy/family drama/session on the psych’s couch. And, to my pleasant surprise, it works. We shift through the various layers and stories at play seamlessly. I found myself laughing out loud at times and at other times genuinely feeling for the angst I saw on screen.
Onto the performances. While I have been one to admire many aspects of Bradley Cooper it seemed to me at least like there was something missing from the performances on screen. Alas with Silver Linings Playbook I feel like he hit a sweet spot. In fact this got me reflecting more on that fact that there are a lot of talented people out there in H-wood and sometimes it is simply a matter of finding that material which out the best in you. Maybe it had something to do with shooting the film in and around his native Philadelphia (I do my research) but there seemed to be even tone to his performance as ironically a man who was battling a crippling mental ailment.
Cooper’s co-star, Jennifer Lawrence, carries on the role as the longing, grieving and heartbroken widow with an aplomb that belies her age. I know folks are ready to crown the America’s next sweetheart and all, but please just let her grow into her craft and go from strength to strength.
The supporting cast is nothing to scoff at either. I think my personal favorite is Chris Tucker, Pat’s friend from his time inside, who turns up at the most random moments to great comedic effect.
Of course this praise of the film is due in large part to finding a director that can bring out the best in you and weave all of these story elements together – much dap to David O. Russell for doing this with his cast of characters.
As much as I enjoyed the movie, I did find myself asking if it deserves the plaudits that have been heaped upon in. Why not is my response. During the awards season, I think that many of us get caught up in the notion that if a film is to be a serious awards contender it must be overly esoteric or dramatically epic. That position really does diminish the value derived from the simple act of moviegoing and purely enjoying oneself. In the case of Silver Linings Playbook you have a well-constructed story, very well acted. Thus making it a film well worth watching.