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“Silver Linings Playbook” – Early Review (POSITIVE)

November 14, 2012

One of the best movies of 2012 is about a man suffering with bipolar, living with an OCD father, hanging out with a mentally unstable chick, and dickhead brother returning into his life, the only sane person in this film is the mother. That’s a lot to digest, I know, but “Silver Linings Playbook” is very untraditional in it’s structure from it’s dysfuntional family to romantic formula, only director David O. Russell (“The Fighter”) could bring this to us.

Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) has lost everything — his house, his job as a high school history sub, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert DeNiro) after spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain. Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife, despite the challenging circumstances of their separation. All Pat’s parent’s want is for him to get back on his feet-and to share their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team, well Pat’s father’s unhealthy obsession. Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl with problems of her own, after losing her husband of three years, and being fired from work for being the office slut, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives.

The dysfunctional family genre is something of familiar territory for writer/director David O. Russell, after last years Oscar winner, “The Fighter”, Russell returns to another sports infused family drama. As I stated before, everyone in this movie is pretty much as crazy or crazier than the next, everyone except Pat’s mother. She appears to be the voice of reason and understanding. Pat is a character who is so determined to be positive and straightforward that it undermines him. His mother is strong voice of reasoning because she’s the first person to bring him home, she’s more defensive for him, and she knows that her son wants to be better, and if dancing is something that will keep him at ease, then that’s good.

Pat’s father is a complicated fellow, he’s not clearly diagnosed, but it’s quite obvious where Pat gets his condition.  His father may not suffer from bipolar disorder, but his OCD has a heavy effect onto Pat and the rest of the family. Pat’s father is so convinced that the reason the Eagles win is because Pat’s the lucky charm that gives the teams their wins. It’s a silly and farfetched assumption, but it’s something his father believes in and is convinced that is his son’s purpose. At first this comes off as a tad off putting, but later we learn more on a personal level that the Eagles and Pat are the only two things that fuel Pat’s dad with such emotional variance.

But the driving force of the movie goes to Tiffany, who pushes Pat to such extremes that his wife never pushed him to before. For Pat it’s an alarming mixture of emotions, but it’s something fresh, innovative, and different, a silver lining as Pat puts it. Perhaps it’s the change he needs to better him and make peace with his wife. Through this unorthodox friendship a relationship blossoms into something more and it will leave Pat making the ultimate decision of his entire adult life.

The cast is brilliant here; Bradley Cooper gives one of his best performances of his career so far. I sincerely hope he gets an Oscar nomination, not a win, but he deserves the nomination. Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence is already my #1 pick for a Best Actress win this year. In the role of Tiffany, she plays it fierce, commanding, and strong, all three are key elements needed for a notable female lead performance. Robert De Niro is hilarious as Pat’s dad, perfectly funny, and dramatically warm when he needs to be. I feel this is another movie that gives you an example of a perfect cast dynamic, that can bounce off each other’s performances generating electricity. A fantastic movie, it’s simply one of the years best, and it will definitely earn David O. Russell another Academy Award nomination for Best Director, will he win? Only time will tell.


Special thanks to Christine Labonté for attending the advance screening and sharing her input

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