Silver Linings Playbook. (2012). MPAA: R (for language and some sexual content/nudity). Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jacki Weaver, and Chris Tucker. Written and directed by David O. Russell.
People in this world suck. Apparently, more people would rather see some cheap horror flick than a meaningful romance drama, therefore causing my local theater to push back the release date of the latter by a few months. Now it is mid January and I am just getting the chance to see and review Silver Linings Playbook. First I was angry. Then I saw the film. And man is it a good one. All prior feelings were extruded from my system as I let David O. Russell take control and swipe me away for a full timed ride consisting of almost every emotion.
Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a man just let out of a mental institution (for reasons I will not spoil) and now making his residence at his parents’ (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver) home. Pat, who is clinically bipolar, strikes fear into his parents with his sudden mood swings, keeping everything and everyone on edge, and he tries his hardest to reconnect with his wife from before his breakdown. Until he meets a girl with some problems of her own, named Tiffany, played by a fiery Jennifer Lawrence, and they soon become close, as certain elements of their personality bring them closer together and deeply connected. And man can I tell you, this is a beautiful, magnetic, and powerful film.
Let’s take a second and talk about Bradley Cooper. This guy can act! Holy crap! I thought he was good in The Hangover. That was nothing. This is the best performance I’ve seen from him yet, and I am so glad he has been nominated for the Best Actor Oscar. Will he win? Probably not. Who cares? He wins in my book. Jennifer Lawrence, nominated in 2010 for Winter’s Bone, fires on all cylinders with her role here as the deeply disturbed woman who just wants to find love. She moved me. It’s a tough race against Jessica Chastain, but I think it will be Lawrence who takes it home come Oscar night. Her chemistry with Cooper was something for the ages. As for Robert DeNiro, I am also glad to see him nominated. DeNiro has always been a personal favorite of mine, but this is the best I’ve seen him in years. His performance moved me to tears, and I’m glad to see him on the Oscar list as well. I’m not quite sure why Jacki Weaver was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, but she stands out in the film, rounding out the solid cast with some strong work. Chris Tucker is also in this movie, and it was refreshing to see him as he was hilarious in virtually every scene. Just a solid cast all around, and everyone is clearly on top of the their game. It’s rare to see a movie have a nominee in every category for acting at the Oscars. A romantic comedy at that. But Playbook has earned every one.
Now we can talk about David O. Russell. This guy is one of the best directors for several reasons, but the main one is his uniqueness. Whether it be circling around his actors multiple times, rolling the camera backwards on a street (which blew my mind in this film a few times), or his subtle zoom uses, Russell knows how to film a movie. He sets up his actors so well, and I am glad to see him nominated for Best Director. He impressed me so much with this film, maybe even more than The Fighter, which is an extraordinary film, by the way. Russell also wrote the screenplay for this film, based on the book which I have not read but certainly plan to, and it, too, was impressive. I loved it. It often went into clichéd places, but it didn’t matter. With the A-list cast and direction, it creates the feeling that something this familiar has never been done this well before. It’s a warm feeling.
FINAL VERDICT: David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook is a marvelous movie and one of the best of 2012. With eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay, this is one of those romance movies that actually mean something. It expresses itself through every emotion, and it is guaranteed to pull them out of you. It did me. I cried during Silver Linings Playbook, and I don’t care. I loved, loved, loved it. See, see, see it. (A+)