Silver Linings Playbook - movie review


By Craig Thornton

Movie Review- Silver Linings Playbook

Recently nominated for eight Oscars and the only film that has a chance to upset the favorite, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, based on the novel by Matthew Quick is the story of a young history teacher who is released from a mental hospital after eight months.  Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a man whose world is turned upside when he catches his wife in the shower with another man, who happens to be a rival of his at the school he teaches.  This incident is the stressor that provokes Pat’s illness, undiagnosed bipolar disorder.  Released into his parents guardianship Pat tries to understand what life he still has left and what life he can possibly have in the future. Pat has no filter and never thinks before he speaks and behaves, complicating matters is his intense obsession with his wife and the delusion that the marriage is still strong.


 Bradley Cooper’s Pat is jittery, overly enthusiastic, childlike, short tempered and desperate.  Cooper uses his boy next door affability to his advantage here, and despite his handsomeness and movie star notoriety he inhabits Pat totally and weaves a vivid characterization of a man who is dealing with serious demons.  It is no surprise that he was nominated for an Oscar.  There is a lightness to his performance that fits his character’s constant need to find the silver lining in every cloud.  Take the garbage he wears to go jogging, at first it feels like a surface choice by David O.Russell (writer/director) to make him seem quirky.  You think no man who has been voted the sexiest man alive would wear something so utterly unsexy, but as the film progresses it just seems normal that Pat is just a little crazy enough to either forget he has it on, or so obsessed with sweating while jogging that he will never take it off.


Jennifer Lawrence plays Tiffany a neighborhood young widow who may not be playing with a full deck herself.  Her relationship with Pat is a volatile endeavor full of conflict and push and shove and attempts, most unsuccessful at closeness. Edgy, honest, tough yet vulnerable, Lawrence once again proves she is an actress to watch for decades to come.  Nominated for her second Oscar for this movie, Lawrence is only twenty one years old, but has the skill and maturity of an actress twice her age. 


The entire ensemble is good, including Jackie Weaver and Robert De Niro as Pat’s poor put upon parents.  Both were nominated for Oscars as well.  It is great to see De Niro, (although it is a stretch to believing De Niro and the tall blue eyed Cooper share any DNA) give such a good, honest performance after years of what appears to seem mercenary choices in bad films.  For those of you that think Robert De Niro is one of the greatest actors of his generation, please look at some of his choices over the past twenty years.  Yes, he was able to get funding for the Tribeca Film Festival, but at what expense? 


I really enjoyed the first half of Silver Linings Playbook.  It felt, fresh, bold, funny and unpredictable.  The film is very good throughout, but when the plot began to take on a more romantic comedy/drama plot line, it started to feel less original.  Perhaps it is the genre that has me vexed and not this movie specifically, because it continues to move forward and is well plotted and is still better than ninety percent of movies being made today.  I just wonder if there is some way to avoid the “all of the characterz show up for the big event that has to be won for some reason” ending.  This predictable movie ending doesn’t have to spoil what came before it, only if you let it.


So far I have seen only three out of the Best Picture Oscar nominated films, the other two being Les Miserables and Lincoln, and I have to say I liked Lincoln the best of the three and I think it is the best film of the three.  Stay tuned as I watch the other six before judgment day- February 24th.


Sunday, December 11, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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