Friday, November 30, 2012

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

Silver Linings Playbook

Directed & Written
by
David O. Russell



     It is so good to know that there are intelligent, gifted filmmakers out there like David O. Russell. He is a director that knows how to make a comedy that does not infuse itself with schmaltz and keeps honest laughs blended with heartwarming truth. Enough with the crappy, tell the audience how to feel romantic comedies and over-acted dramas that usually get released from the major Hollywood studios. Mr. Russell has directed an sincerely funny, heartfelt romantic comedy about real people, dealing with real issues. We can relate to these characters, there situations and the setting the film takes place in. This is why Silver Linings Playbook is such a joy to watch and is absolutely one of the best films to be released this year. 
     The film drops us into the world of Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), who has recently been released from a mental institute after a stint for bi-polar disorder. Pat moves back in with his parents Dolores and Pat Sr. (Jackie Weaver and Robert DeNiro) in Philadelphia and his main goal is to reunite with his estranged wife and live life with a constant, positive outlook. These plans go awry when he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who has lost her husband and has not been mentally stable either, as of late. The film is based on Matthew Quick's novel of the same name but this film is all David O. Russell's. He is complete control of this film and so honest with the story, acting and not force feeding the audience cookie cutter bullshit. He gets it. He knows exactly what he is doing and the blend of humor and drama are flat out brilliant. It is an astutely paced, beautifully and harmonically acted, and has a touch of sadness in its honest portrayal of two confused souls in a challenging world. The film is so perfect. So good.
     The real beauty and greatness of Silver Linings Playbook is the juxtaposition of these two mentally unstable and frantic individuals and there ability to find solace and peace in each others problems and desires. The film does not shy away from the instability of Pat and Tiffany or there use, or past usage of prescription drugs, and there inherent choice to attempt life's beauty and happiness without them. And it is not just these two people who have problems of there own. Pat Sr. is a bookie and an overtly obsessed Philadelphia Eagles fan. He is banned from going to any Eagles game since he was involved in a fight in a past home game. There is an odd connection between Pat Sr and his devilish Eagles fanaticism and his son's constant desire to find love again with his wife. Pat Sr. wants to patch his relationship up with his son, but Eagles obsession diverts him from that goal, as well as Pat Jr's desire to reconnect with his estranged wife, which diverts him from a chance to reconnect with his father. Will they find that relationship they each want or will they come together? Well, I don't want to give the answer away, but when I say this is a romantic comedy that defies all cliches, even when they are there, I think you can figure it out.
     The acting is perfect throughout the whole film. Bradley Cooper, after a series of big budget fare shows his depth, at not just serious humor, but drama as well. He showcases an honest and heartfelt portrayal of a man in the midst of transition and a chance to change his life. Jennifer Lawrence, with her previous Oscar nominated role in the brilliant, dark Ozark noir Winter's Bone (2010), has turned in a frenetic, energized role that not only shows her undeniable beauty and charm, but the flat out fact she gets it. She is wonderfully in control of this role and her face and eyes show a sense of understanding and intelligence that adds to her wide range of emotional changes and challenges in the role of Tiffany. And Robert DeNiro. This is without a doubt the best role he has had, and that he has delivered in I don't know how many years. He is funny, charming, eccentric and intense. He is that loving father and obsessed fan that expresses grave disapproval and also beautiful understanding and experience. He possesses his own bi-polar ways that not only shows his penchant for the good luck charm he believes his son to be for the Eagles to win, but also for the pure outlook and happiness he hopes his son can find in life. DeNiro is just outstanding in this film.
     The rest of the supporting cast is fantastic as well. Jackie Weaver is whole-hearted and tender has Pat's mother Dolores. Chris Tucker plays Danny, a fellow patient at the mental hospital with Pat who attempts numerous times to leave the facility with varying successful attempts. Tucker is relaxed and neurotic in his role as not just a patient, but a friend to Pat. Such a good role for someone who is usually considered just a comedic actor, but here he shows knowledgeable depth and courage in portraying an honest and caring friend. John Ortiz, Julia Stiles, Anupam Kher, Shea Whigham and Paul Herman round out an impressive cast that aids in the fantastic wit this film contains.
     David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook is that heartwarming, romantic comedy I've been waiting for. A movie that is honest and in control of itself. His direction is swift and the humor is so natural and right on point. It doesn't consists of long drawn out jokes or corny one-liners, but of sincere honest reactions and sentiment, or at times lack there of. He is not interested in forcing you to feel good, but he let his actors and the story lend itself to that. Silver Linings Playbook is movie any and everyone can enjoy and root for. All I can say is see this movie and we should be very thankful that we have a director like David O. Russell that just gets it.

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