Thursday, December 27, 2012

Movie Review: "Silver Linings Playbook"

Silver Linings Playbook is a joy from start to finish.  It's the kind of film that you feel as if you have actually experienced something, while at the same time you're wildly entertained.

Blurring the lines between drama and comedy, the film tells the story of Pat (Bradley Cooper), a former History teacher who walked in on his wife with another man.  Pat snapped and beat the man to a pulp, being sent to a mental hospital for 8 months, diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.  Once out, Pat moves back in with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver), while he tries to get his life back on track and prove to his wife that he's changed.  To say that this film is a comedy, may seem hard for someone to fathom, but believe me, writer/director, David O. Russell makes it work.

Silver Linings Playbook shows these serious situations, but makes them funny by amping up the neuroses of all involved.  In a way, it's as if Russell is saying, everyone is a little bit crazy, as is evidenced by Pat's psychiatrist's obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles, or his dad's obsessive, superstitious beliefs that if Pat doesn't watch the Eagles' games with him, then the Eagles will lose.

The performances by all involved are superb.  Bradley Cooper delivers a career best turn as Pat, being both likable and vulnerable at the same time, and what more can be said for Jennifer Lawrence, who portrays a mentally unstable widower, named Tiffany, who befriends Pat.  Lawrence is having one great year.  From her career best work as Katniss in The Hunger Games, to her work in Silver Linings Playbook, she proves that she is full of spunk, but is not afraid to show emotion or fall apart, and that is why she very well may win the Best Actress Oscar come January.

There is just something special about Silver Linings Playbook.  It's funny and oddly heartwarming.  After a career high with The Fighter, two years back, David O. Russell bests himself again with this film.  This is quite possibly the best directing he has ever done, with his kinetic shot design utilizing a lot of camera movements to show the characters and emotions that he wants us to focus on at that time, by dollying the camera in or whipping it around other actors to get to the core of each scene.

Silver Linings Playbook is an offbeat film, and some might not find its straightforward nature all that funny, because with both Pat and Tiffany, what you see is what you get, and they both say whatever is on their mind.  While they often say socially unacceptable things at the wrong times, that is where the comedy often comes from, and it's why you realize that these two are meant to be together, learning, that no matter how crazy you think you are, there's always someone out there for you who is just as crazy and will love you for who you are.

I give Silver Linings Playbook an A+

(Note:  If you live in the Birmingham, AL, area, the film is now playing at the Carmike 10 - Vestavia Hills' location)

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