Silver Linings Playbook is the type of movie where the audience claps at the end. (At least they did in my theater.) If you’re going to see one Oscar nominated film this year, why not make it this one? After all, it got nominated for just about everything: Best Picture, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper — a revelation!); Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence — love her!); Best Supporting Actor (Robert DeNiro — hasn’t had a role this good in forever); Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver — never saw her before but loved her); Best Director (David O. Russell — I’ve always been a fan of his and this has the same zany feel as his excellent but little seen Flirting with Disaster).
I really have nothing bad to say about this movie. It was funny, touching, real, zany, lovable and everything else in between. For me, Bradley Cooper’s performance was the biggest surprise. I’ve mostly seen him in The Hangover movies (since the first one plays on TBS every 14 minutes), and I wasn’t prepared for how good he was in this role. He plays a bipolar man whose just been released from a mental institution (liberated by his doting mother) and is trying to get himself together to win back his ex-wife. (It was the near-fatal beating of her lover that landed him in the institution.) His portrayal of Pat Jr. was just spot-on. He conveyed so much with just his eyes, which I think is the hallmark of a really good actor. Jennifer Lawrence—as an equally “crazy” widow who forms an unlikely and uneven friendship with Pat—matches Cooper all the way. Their relationship was a breath of fresh air, and you root for them to get through all the BS that keeps people apart and find each other. But this isn’t a movie that just relies on the brilliant performances of its two leads. Everyone in the movie shines. DeNiro and Weaver (as Pat’s parents) just kill it as Pat’s concerned parents who aren’t sure how to handle him (and in whom we see the roots of some of Pat’s problems). Chris Tucker was comic gold as one of the Pat’s fellow patients from the institution, who is constantly breaking out and showing up at Pat’s door. Seriously, everyone in the movie is so darn good.
The other huge draw for me was the Philadelphia setting and how Eagles fans were portrayed which I don’t believe was exaggerated for comedic effect—Philly fans really are that nuts! Since I live just outside of Philly, this was a treat for me as it is always fun to see your local area portrayed on screen. And if you need to sell this movie to the man in your life, tell them there is some football stuff as well as Robert DeNiro. (It will soften the dance scenes … which are deliciously fun and loopy. The dance competition scenes at the end were a delight.)
In short, this movie had everything I look for in film. Thank you, David O. Russell, for this loopy, fun, touching bit of cinematic greatness. I hereby grant you 5 stars!
Side Note: Since most of us are bookish people, I should mention that the film is based on a novel by Matthew Quick, which (of course) I’m going to have to read. If you’re read the book and seen the movie, how did they compare?