Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

I love movies… but lately, I’ve had difficulty in devoting chunks of my free time to going to the theater and plonking my ass into a seat for two plus hours.  Places to go… people to see… lawns to be mowed… and dinners to be prepped… such is the life of a relatively busy and active dad/husband/full-time employee/podcast parasite/blogger.  I would honestly complain more often about not seeing more recent releases if it weren’t my choice to do so.  There are currently three movies in wide release that I have been itching to see, and Mrs. Blahg, at various times this weekend, has been encouraging me to go… but still, I’ve shifted a few priorities, and the films will still be around regardless of whether or not I see them now or later.

One such film is Silver Linings Playbook.  For all of the attention it received after being released last Christmas, and after getting multiple Academy Awards nominations (including Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress (and won), Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, plus a couple more), and going on to give Jennifer Lawrence a much deserved Oscar with the attendant hilarious and self-deprecating acceptance speech, I simply didn’t get around to seeing this film… until Saturday night.

If you are one of the last fourteen people or so in the country that has not seen Silver Linings Playbook, do so immediately.  Go on… I’ll wait.

OK… what did you think?  Fantastic, wasn’t it?  Indeed it is.

The story is fairly simple.  A mentally ill man, Pat (Bradley Cooper), is released from a mental institution after seven months into the care of his parents (Robert DeNiro giving his best performance in years, if not decades, and Jacki Weaver).  It would seem that his release may be a bit premature… he is severely bipolar and is hell-bent on getting his wife back after having pummeled her lover nearly to death after discovering the two of them in the shower together, which is why he was in the hospital in the first place.  Couple that together with the fact that he isn’t taking his meds, his father is an OCD afflicted hyper-football fan, his mother is in a constant state of denial that the whole thing is a mess, and his brother is a douche… well, Pat seems headed down a bad road.

In comes Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), sister to the wife of Pat’s best friend, who himself seems to be unraveling in a slo-mo self destruct.  Tiffany is a young widow and is on a number of the same meds that Pat is on… but unlike Pat, who is doing his best to grasp onto his past, Tiffany is doing her best to move forward by taking up new hobbies and experiences… living on her own, fucking as many guys as she can, and ultimately, attempting to get into a dance contest.

Eventually, she agrees to pass on a letter to Pat’s former wife in exchange for his participation in the dance contest… and the discomfort that occurs along the way is squirm inducing and heart breaking while at the same time being remarkably warm and handled deftly in the hands of David O. Russell, who seems to be a master of energetic tension (watch Three Kings as an example).

What I am most impressed with are the performances from both of the leads as well as the supporting cast.  I now completely understand why the Academy choose to honor so many actors from this film… they all deserved the award, even if it was only Jennifer Lawrence who brandished the little golden man.  Bradley Cooper, whom I generally think of in relation to The Hangover, was stupendous.  As someone who has known a few bipolar people over the years, and am familiar with the uncomfortable mood swings and shifts into manic high gear, I must say I was thoroughly impressed with how well he conveyed that end of Pat’s disease.

As Tiffany, Jennifer Lawrence manages a tremendous tightrope act… cold and guarded, while also being obviously vulnerable and an open wound… and the chemistry between the two was palpable.

I have one slight complaint… but it’s a very minor one that is only a complaint in hindsight.  I’ll post a little something on that after the trailer below.

Although I was late to the Silver Linings Playbook party, with film… it’s really never to late to enjoy an amazing movie.  If you haven’t seen it, do so now… it’s available on VOD (Video on Demand), or on Blu-ray/DVD.

You have poor social skills. You have a problem,
Cornelius J. Blahg

Spoiler ahead… don’t read below this point if you haven’t watched the movie.

One final thought… did the ending seem a bit too perfect?  They are both mentally fucked, and just because they are now in love doesn’t mean they are fine and doesn’t mean they can stop taking meds.  In fact, more could have been made about the fact that he’s only getting better because he did start taking his meds in earnest.

Like I said, a totally minor gripe… and honestly, I was thrilled that it has a happy ending.  I was already all weepy watching the movie, and dammit… that scene with DeNiro when he finally opens up to Pat just killed me.  Dads crying… is there anything more devastating?

So… Hollywood happy ending, and I couldn’t be more content.  That’s all… have a lovely day.

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