Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook (R) - Runtime: 122 minutes
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: David O. Russell

I wasn't expecting to fall for this movie as much as I did. You would think that a movie about two mentally unstable people falling in love amidst dance rehearsal wouldn't exactly excite the nerves - but David O. Russell has such a good sense of writing and directing that his past two films have been simply dazzling. I completely and absolutely love this movie - it's funny, scary and emotionally rewarding. At its heart - it's a romantic comedy - a genre which I love and which seems to be waning in the past few years. It's brilliantly acted and directed and it does deserve all the accolades it's been getting this awards season.

Bradley Cooper plays Pat, an angry young man who's been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder and who's finally getting released from an 8-month stay at a mental institution. He's married and had a breakdown when he catches his wife cheating on him with a fellow teacher. He nearly killed the man and has a restraining order placed on him after the incident. After his release he meets Tiffany, a widow who has her own problems. They both decide to help each other out - Tiffany will discretely deliver a letter to Pat's wife as long as he becomes her dance partner for a state competition. Things heat up on the dance floor and off - and they both find each other as solutions to some of their problems.

First of all - this is a brilliantly acted movie. Bradley Cooper is really, really good - he convincingly captures a character that has trust issues and is prone to violent outbreaks. He can't help himself but to say everything that's on his mind. The movie plays this thin line of heartbreak and comic relief really well. There are times when Pat's neurosis is scary and deeply tragic, but there are moments where it's just plain funny because he speaks his mind because he doesn't have the capacity to determine what's appropriate or inappropriate. Of course he meets his foil - Tiffany - who isn't afraid either to call him out on his bullshit. She has a lot of issues that seem to have been building way before her husband was killed in a car accident. Jennifer Lawrence is also insanely good in this role - she manages to be sexy and tragically broken all at the same time. The supporting cast is great - DeNiro and Jacki Weaver do a great job of playing parents who are hoping for the best but have very little control over the situation with their son.

The movie deals with mental illness and I don't think it treats it lightly. There were moments when I thought the movie was being completely serious and still some people were laughing. That was more people's insecurity and immaturity towards the subject than the film's portrayal. Like I said earlier, this is a romantic comedy at heart - so the movie isn't going to delve too deeply into this serious issue. But I think it showed that Pat's life can be scary and painful because of his illness. And ultimately, it takes a family and professional care to maintain a fairly normal lifestyle for these individuals. The movie has a very uplifting message and you'd be hard pressed not to at least enjoy the dance performance at the end of the movie and tear up a little bit at some point during the film.

David O. Russell is becoming one of my new favorite directors - I really didn't enjoy Three Kings nor I Heart Huckabees, but The Fighter was great and so is this movie. I love what how he works the camera - the pullout at the end of the movie after Pat and Tiffany kiss is simply beautiful and poetic. He also knows the best way to blend music into a scene and there's a couple of great scenes of Pat running around town with the perfect song in tow. It's just these touches that add to an already brilliant film.

Rating: See It!

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