Friday, January 18, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook (Wanous)

Quirky, delightful: A must-see film
L'Attitudes Contributor

This quirky film has been called a comedy, a drama and a romance, all of which are apt terms. But "Silver Linings Playbook" is more than that - it imparts new life into all three of those genres.

The film takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride of emotions that parallels the bipolar nature of the main character and gives viewers a frank, unflinching portrayal of mental illness and its effects on family and community.

The script is enthralling, the acting is terrific and the direction is superb. As a result, the movie is rightly nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Director.

Pat Solitano, Jr. has just been released from a mental institution, after an eight-month stint as part of his plea bargain for assaulting a man he caught in the shower with his wife. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder but refusing to take his meds, he has to move back in with his parents. As Pat returns home to an awkward reunion with his father, who is fanatically OCD about his beloved Philadelphia Eagles football team, the emotional fireworks start and escalate quickly.

With no job, a wife with a restraining order against him, a dysfunctional family, a police officer observing him and an entire neighborhood watching his every move, Pat tries desperately to put his life back together even as his intense bipolar episodes threaten to send him back to the institution.
He is frantic to reconnect with his wife and soon hooks up with Tiffany, a relative of a friend who is going through her own mental crisis. Tiffany says that she can help him contact his wife, but only if he will do a favor for her. And fulfilling those mutual favors will put Pat and Tiffany together in a way neither they, nor the viewer, could have anticipated.

Directed by David O. Russell ("Three Kings", "The Fighter") and starring Bradley Cooper ("The Hangover," "Limitless"), Jennifer Lawrence ("Hunger Games, Winter's Bone,") Jacki Weaver ("Animal Kingdom") and Robert de Niro, "Silver Linings Playbook" features dazzling performances by the four lead actors, all of whom are nominated for Academy Awards.

Cooper brings such fierce intensity and realism to his role that viewers will likely be fidgeting uncomfortably in their seats for the first 30 minutes of the film. Lawrence recently won a Golden Globe for her performance and appears to be a leading candidate for the Best Actress Oscar. Her performance as the widow trying to overcome her scandalous reaction to the death of her husband is powerful and filled with raw emotion, moodiness and unexpected nuance.

Weaver, playing the mother and wife struggling to deal with the difficult men in her life, gives her character a tenderness and toughness that is heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time.

De Niro is the best he's been in years as Pat's father, who is bizarrely superstitious about maintaining the "juju" that will help the hometown Eagles triumph every Sunday. Chris Tucker is also good as a fellow patient who keeps releasing himself from the mental hospital.

The only flaw comes near the end as Pat finally gets to speak with his wife at the dance competition. He seems to have a new-found control of his emotions that doesn't quite fit with the earlier, nearly out-of-control Pat.

But other than that small misstep, "Silver Linings Playbook" is one of the year's best films and a must-see that will surprise and delight viewers.  

No comments: