|Silver Linings Playbook
Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
David O. Russell likes to deal in the absurd. Whether it’s something obvious (Flirting With Disaster) or hidden under a subject that is a little more serious (Three Kings), it’s always there. That absurdity is what makes him such a unique voice in filmmaking today. And while his career is closing in on 20 years, Silver Linings Playbook is only his 6th movie. But he makes each movie count (even the incredibly wobbly I Heart Huckabees). Playbook is all kinds of crazy… and absurd… but that’s literally the point. Whether it’s the kind of crazy that gets you sent to a hospital or the kind that people accept as just your idiosyncratic routine, Playbook give it to you in bundles. That is also the pure joy of this film, you may see a little of yourself in these characters and their actions, in fact you probably will, whether you want to fully admit it I’ll leave that up to you. But Russell and crew have created a movie that is completely deserving of all the hype leading up to its release. It may also be the best movie I see this year.
You see Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is just trying to get his mind right. He’s doing this for his wife, despite her infidelities and Pat’s little temper problem after said infidelities that got him set to a mental institution for 8 months. Pat is put into the care of his parents Pat Sr. & Dolores (Jacki Weaver & Robert De Niro). But his parents are a grab bag of emotions and eccentricities that one wonders how they could ever be considered good or even fitting parents, but they make it work. As Pat tries to reconnect to a world and a Philly neighborhood he calls home, he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl who has her own unique way of dealing with her husbands death…ways that have gotten her labeled. But Tiffany, who just as Pat is doing, is just trying to find a balance in her life.
The real beauty of Silver Linings Playbook is in the eccentricities of its characters. Whether it’s Pat Sr. and his undying devotion to the Philadelphia Eagles or Pat’s hospital buddy Danny (Chris Tucker) and his belief that he’s doesn’t need to be in the hospital anymore and just leaves, you watch them and may cringe at their behavior, but you may also completely relate with their rationalization. Then there is the relationship that builds with Tiffany and Pat and at once it would seem they are just using each other to gain the balance they are looking for, but then it becomes clear to both them and the audience they compliment each other.
Playbook is also incredibly funny, subtlety so I must say. And that really is the best kind of comedy. A look or a reaction, the way a characters says a line, the movie is filled with moments like this. And for everyone out there who has made peace with the fact that Robert De Niro has buried his career with paycheck jobs, he rises like a Phoenix and kills in every scene he’s in. This is vintage De Niro people and it’s such a welcome sight to see, like reconnecting with an old friend. The casting of Cooper and Lawrence was also spot on as they swing for the fences, and succeed, with the material.
In the hands of another director, Playbook would be susceptible to getting too heavy handed with the drama of the situations and characters arcs presented in the movie…think TV movie of the week. But Russell plays to his strengths and it works in spades. He doesn’t cheapen the characters, nor does he make them out to be victims or villains.
I really don’t know what else to say about Silver Linings Playbook without spoiling the fun that comes with this movie. So just go see it. Seriously...