Silver Linings Playbook

Excelsior!

         
 

21 November 2012| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Riotous character study of a bi-polar disorder case. Silver Linings Playbook aims to prove at least three things: 1.) Bradley Cooper is more intelligent an actor than we expected; 2.) Bi-Polar cases may be destructive but their exuberance is hysterical to watch; 3.) Jennifer Lawrence is the greatest actress under the age of 22 alive. Pat (Cooper), guilty of beating his wife’s lover, returns home to Philadelphia after finishing eight months of required stay in a Baltimore mental hospital. He wants his wife back, is undergoing his own self-prescribed sensitivity training to win her, and has to acknowledge that a restraining order is in his way. Tiffany (Lawrence) is a young widow who is known by everyone around town as being sexually promiscuous. She calls herself a slut – her own self-recognition is with pride, but really she seeks to redeem herself.

What the story presents us with are two mentally unhinged people noted for recklessness who find each other, and therefore, self-love for themselves. If Pat and Tiffany don’t find each other, then well, they were on their way towards a dangerous course. (Are their run-ins while jogging a coincidence?) Both of them live with their own sets of high anxiety parents. Yes, the dysfunctional family elements run full circle.

Pat’s parents in particular are played by Robert DeNiro (brilliant recently in “Stone”) and Jacki Weaver (brilliant recently in “Animal Kingdom”). DeNiro was supposed to have retired, but now runs a low-level bookie business with the intent of using earnings to buy a Philly cheesesteak diner. He has become the kind of rabid Eagles fan that bets the whole house on a single game. He has convoluted superstitions that involve his son watching the games with him, and he narrows down the reasoning of team losses to extreme self-constructed and devised metaphysics. It is curious to  notice how irrational and compulsive behavior has passed down from father to son.

Can’t Pat see that he’s destroying his Dad?! But really, he wants everyone to stay out of the way so he can get a letter to his estranged wife Nicki (Brea Bee). He gets regular visits by a local cop, and friends like Ronnie (John Ortiz) and his wife Veronica (Julia Stiles) are reluctant messengers. Pat finally uses Tiffany as his conduit of communication with his ex-wife. But, aha, she wants Pat to do her a Very Big Favor. He concedes but only after displaying some petulance, I mean, he has a masculinity image to protect, right?

David O. Russell (“The Fighter”), who directed and penned the adaptation from a Matthew Quick novel, gets us cheering at the end for a football game and a dance contest – stemming out of a crazy parlay bet. His characters talk frantically, repeat themselves in stutters, switch gears in conversation, and flinch at their own off the cuff rudeness. Pat and Tiffany become less troubled characters who learn to control their hypomania outbursts, and their friendship evolves into something special. I followed them – even merrily at times – with close interest.

122 Minutes. Rated R.

DRAMA / MOODY CHARACTER STUDY / WEEKEND MATINEE

Film Cousins: “Mr. Jones” (1993); “Lars and the Real Girl” (2007); “The Fighter” (2010); “Young Adult” (2011).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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