Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
Silver Linings Playbook
In what could be called "Angry in Love", here is "Silver Linings Playbook” another quirky romantic comedy that does its best to be unconventional and succeeds (to a point). At its best, it gives the actors room to act and breathe. It is heartfelt too, mostly through the efforts of Bradley Cooper who plays Pat, a thirty-something man with a bipolar rage problem just released from a psychiatric hospital at the film's beginning.
At its most shaky though, it treads a bit of melodrama, mainly through Robert De Niro, who plays a heavily burdened Philadelphia Dad with OCD who believes the fate of the world hangs within the talons of the Philadelphia Eagles. Here is a man that breathes TV sports to the point of having the remote controls point to The East. On the surface, Mr. Parker is likable but inside he festers with a Type A/trigger temper and is banned from the stadium due to his unbound aggression.
Pat moves in with his well-meaning and long suffering mom (Jacki Weaver) and wants to make a go of equilibrium. He obsesses about his estranged wife Nikki (Brea Bee). It turns out that Patrick viciously attacked Nikki's boyfriend within inches from disability, when he found them together in the act of a smoochy shower.
Enter the volatile vixen Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who appears like a sable curl of smoke during an awkward party. Tiffany, as it turns out, is impetuous, quick to anger and seductive.
But of course.
She recently got canned from her job for sleeping with every co-worker.
I don't believe it.
At first, Pat thinks of Tiffany as a strange semi-Goth oddity, but...you guessed it, an attraction develops.
Despite its romantic comedy conventions, (the semi-accidental jog, the misunderstandings, the spurned lover going off in dejection, etc.) there is an ample amount of is good solid dialogue with some zippy repartee and a winsome chemistry between Lawrence and Cooper to keep you going. Lawrence alone is fun to watch and her emotional range sans Katniss will make you forget her often spacey expressions.
The only elements that are a bit hard to take are the fits and rages that many of the characters seem to have. Not to mention that every principal role in the film has a struggle or is emotionally hindered. Is this necessary? At one point there is so much dramatic cacophony between De Niro (no surprise), Cooper and Lawrence with everyone yelling, screaming and carrying on (even the police and an obnoxious kid) that it takes away from the rhythm of the story and almost becomes a drowning element. Even Ernest Hemingway, God Bless his soul, gets an earful.
Still, even with this problem of sound and fury, "Silver Linings Playbook" retains a refreshing irreverence that won't fail to sneak up on you like a passive-aggressive but playfully unexpected kiss.
Write Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org