'Silver Linings' lacks a cloud
"Silver Linings Playbook" is a film receiving a great deal of Oscar buzz that it has rightly earned. The trailer sold me on a typical feel good romantic comedy about two people who like each other, but find that their pasts get in the way. I know, that sounds like every romantic comedy, but it looked good. After seeing it I completely understand where all this buzz is coming from. "Silver Linings Playbook" is not so much a formulaic romantic comedy as much as it is a romantic "dramedy."
The film is a lot darker than anyone is probably expecting it to be. Bradley Cooper portrays a man who caught his wife cheating on him one day after work and reacted by beating the man down and attempting to strangle his wife. It turns out he has undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and he then goes to a mental institution. The film begins with his release. His wife has filed a restraining order on him, and everybody is either afraid of him or treats him like a child. However, he refuses to take his medication and is always on edge. He's always running and has apparently lost a sufficient amount of weight. He's doing everything he can to make himself better in the eyes of his wife, whom he believes is waiting for him. Nobody is willing to be the bearer of bad news and give him a reality check. He's at odds with his father who lost his job and is now a bookie and also has a bit of an anger problem. The film really explores his character and we see all his good moments as well as his darker moments on his way to his recovery. Bradley Cooper's performance of a man battling bipolar disorder is believable.
Then, he meets Jennifer Lawrence, whose character has been sleeping with everyone and everything in the depression following her husband's death. She deserves an Oscar for this performance, though it would be a long shot. She tries to have sex with Bradley Cooper immediately after they meet, but he's faithful to his wife and refuses to do so. However they become friends, and mutually help each other by being in a dance competition. While both characters are borderline psychotic to an extent, they're both very likeable.
The 'Silver Linings Playbook' also gives us Chris Tucker to major films. Tucker plays Bradley's friend from the institution who is funny and nice, but for some reason is not allowed to leave although he repeatedly stages breakouts. However, Tucker's attempts are all in view, as he is always being retuned to the institution. He's really there for nothing more than comic relief and he is very funny. Robert DeNiro is predictably outstanding in his role as the father struggling with a son he doesn't know how to help while preoccupied with his own life. David O. Russell directs a great movie with a talented cast that really explores the psyche of two troubled people as they fall in love. While it is dark at times, it's also very humorous. I don't think this will win any major awards, but it certainly deserves the major nominations it's predicted to get.
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