Friday, February 22, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

Directed by: David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver
Released: 2012
Runtime: 122 minutes
Rating: 4/5

Former school teacher Pat Solitano is discharged from a mental institution following a mental breakdown. He moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife while also trying to maintain a positive outlook on life, finding that silver lining. But challenges soon arise for Pat after meeting a mysterious girl named Tiffany through a mutual friend who has her own share of problems.

I never intended on seeing this film, I had seen the trailer once and I wasn’t that taken by the leading actors but then all the praise for the film started pouring in and the big kicker for me was Robert De Niro getting the Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Finally it sounded like he was back in a good film for a change. So I passed on seeing The Impossible for Silver Linings Playbook.

What I appreciate and really respect about this film is it’s portrayal of mental illness. It’s non cynical and doesn’t shy away from showing the damaging effects and the enormous emotional strain it has on people and their loved ones. Yet there is also a very evident and constant comical tone to the film but never for a moment is it inappropriate. Director and screenwriter David O. Russell knows exactly when the film needed to be funny.

This is definitely a character driven film. There is great development between the two leads Pat and Tiffany, they have strong chemistry and as I’m sure you have no doubt guess at some point, the bond they form allows them to start healing.  It’s all very sweet and touching but not with all that generic and sappy romantic comedy bullshit. Even the supporting characters are well developed and definitely have their pivotal moments, especially Pat’s slightly obsessive compulsive father played by Robert De Niro. Come to think of it just about every character in this film is a little bit nuts in some way.

The acting is powerhouse! The film is up for eight Oscars, four of which are for acting; Cooper and Lawrence for leading and De Niro and Weaver for supporting. The biggest surprise would be Bradley Cooper who I’ve never really had any kind of opinion on, but he’s now in a film that shows him as a good actor instead of just a pretty boy actor. His performance was emotional to say the least; it must have been so exhausting constantly going from one end to the spectrum to the other, but he sure nails it. I loved Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, especially here dry and witty sense of humour. Now the Oscars are on Sunday, or Monday if you live in the future like we Australians and I really hope De Niro gets it but I suspect it will go to Tommy Lee Jones who was fantastic in Lincoln, but come on we’re talking about the guy who played Travis Bickle. Jacki Weaver is also very strong as Pat’s mother who tries to play the mediator between Pat and her husband. And I must mention Chris Tucker who is actually really good, not his usual over the top and loud performance but more reserved and he brings a nice light comedic touch to his scenes.

Silver Linings Playbook is a must see in my book. As someone who has experienced and dealt with mental illness first hand I found the film to be pretty inspiring and I could relate quite well to a lot of the characters. Overall it’s just a really nice film.

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