Now and then, a film comes along that excites you and gives you hope that the film industry is not entirely all about comic books, chainsaws, or aliens. Not that there’s anything wrong with those type of films. I happen to enjoy some of the fluff that blazes into theaters every year. But it’s nice to have films for the big people in this world; films that are more than eye-candy and soundtracks that shake your bones. I’m talking about stories that pull you in and get you involved in the lives of imaginary characters as if they were your best friends. Silver Linings Playbook is one of those films.
The film stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, with supporting roles played by Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, and Anupam Kher. It also includes appearances by Chris Tucker, John Ortiz, and Julia Stiles. David O. Russell wrote the screenplay and directed it.
Silver Linings Playbook is an adaptation of the book The Silver Linings Playbook, written by Matthew Quick. I haven’t read the novel, but I can only assume that Russell did a fine job at adapting it for the screen. The screenplay is a superb piece of work, evident by the unmatched dialogue and juxtapositions of each scene. Russell also directed, which means that everything written most certainly made it to the final edit, further testament to the standard of the script.
The story is about Pat (Cooper), a former teacher that ends up in a mental hospital per the court’s orders. He’s released early and lives with his parents (De Niro & Weaver). Pat is bipolar, refuses to take his medication, and thinks he’s going to win his estranged wife back. In the mean time, Pat meets Tiffany (Lawrence), a girl with her own problems that requires medication.
I know this doesn’t quite sound like a film that seems enjoyable, but let me assure you, this movie is a must see. Cooper and Lawrence are fantastic together. Their on screen chemistry instantly makes you like them and root for their happiness. Cooper does a wonderful job as a man diagnosed with bipolar disorder. His moodiness can sometimes be both comical and nerve racking, all the while being charming at the same time.
Lawrence is equally wonderful as a woman with a disorder of her own. Her moodiness isn’t as nerve racking, but they are shocking and comical, all while she is just as charming. From the moment that these two are on screen with each other, you’ll fall in love and hope that they do, too.
Robert De Niro plays Pat’s father Pat Sr. He’s an extremely superstitious bookie that loves the Philadelphia Eagles, but can’t go to the games, because he’s banned from the stadium for life. He loves his son, but Pat’s disorder caused Pat Sr. to distance himself from his son while he was growing up. Now, living under the same roof once again, they are forced to reconcile in their own unique ways.
Jacki Weaver plays Pat’s mother Dolores. She’s the quintessential mother. She loves her son, she loves her husband, and she relishes meddling in their lives ever so slightly. More than anything, Dolores wants peace in her home and peace for her tortured son. She also wants Pat to spend more time with his father. Dolores is in constant worry.
The supporting cast rounds out the film well with smile inducing performances by Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, and John Ortiz. Unfortunately, Julia Stiles character doesn’t make you smile so much. It’s not her acting. It’s her character. She’s a twerp.
The film played well in the theater. There were laughs abound and tear jerker scenes here and there. The ending is well done. I had this feeling throughout that I hoped wasn’t true and when the last scene finally played, I was relieved. Russell did a fine job directing this picture. He should be extremely proud. It is his best film to date.
The film has received Academy nominations for Best Lead Actor for Cooper, Best Lead Actress for Lawrence, Best Director for Russell, Best Screenplay Adaptation for Russell, and Best Picture. That’s great news! The bad news is that Cooper is up against Daniel Day Lewis for Lincoln and Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables. Too bad there can’t be a tie. Lawrence has it in the bag, though. She’ll walk away with the Best Lead Actress Oscar. Russell will win Best Director. It’s a toss up for Best Picture.
If you have a chance, go see Silver Linings Playbook in the theater. It’s that good and there’s nothing like seeing a movie on the big screen, even if it is a drama. When it comes out on DVD, you’ll no doubt want to add this to your collection.
And now for your viewing pleasure: