Mar 21, 2013 10:56 AM
BradleyCooper on Jay Leno this week said taking on the role of Pat Solitano, aformer teacher who is mentally unstable, was one he was unsure of. Hedidn’t think he could go to the proper places to deliver an authenticperformance, as it was unlike any role he had ever done before.
Thefilm opens up with Solitano in a mental institution because of analtercation he had with the man that his wife was cheating on him with.When his mother (Jacki Weaver) decides to take him out of theinstitution after 8 ½ months, she knows the risks of bringing him backto their Philadelphia home. You see, everyone knows about the brutalassault Pat put on the man he caught in the shower with his wife,people assume Pat will always be dangerous. Now it’s up to his mom anddad (Robert De Niro) to reel him in and try to keep him calm, eventhough he has restraining orders out against him and is under constantpolice surveillance.
Thisisn’t your typical romantic comedy, director David O. Russell capturesmore than a potential pseudo love story between two sick people, hedevelops their odd relationship in an environment of cancerous people. It’s easy to put two people who suffer from similar ailments togetherand say there is a love connection because of their imperfections.We’ve seen that a countless amount times. But to balance their personalproblems, the community around them, invoke powerful chemistry for overtwo hours, now that is something special. And that is what we get inSilver Linings Playbook.
Obviouslythe film is centered around two troubled people; Pat and Tiffany.Jennifer Lawrence comes into the picture about 20 minutes into the filmas a young widow who’s husband, a cop, was killed. Right off the batthe two are seemingly set up by Tiffany’s sister (Julia Stiles) to thedispleasure of both of them. Their awkward conversations at dinner,deadpan humor and vitriol for one another is palpable.
Frominterrupting jogging routes to scandalous stories about how Tiffany gotfired, every time Cooper and Lawrence are on screen together it feelsright. It’s not forced, you don’t feel a sense of miscommunication,just two messed up people who feel like their behavior is normal eventhough the outside world may say otherwise.
SilverLinings Playbook thrives on the little nuances between Pat and Tiffanyand their cohesiveness. From the way Cooper uses his eyes and handswhen he talks to the nervous moments for Lawrence when you see tensionin her neck and shoulders. They are small details but they lend for twoof the best performances of the year.
Cooperblew me away for the first time in Limitless, another film he starredwith De Niro. Now he has done it again and better. This is by far hisbest, most triumphant performance of his career and one no one willstop talking about. As a guy that most people will know from comedieslike The Hangover series, it seem like Cooper recently has tried toshow his range and dramatic side. That will only expand his fan baseand prove his worth in Hollywood. He straddles the line of loving andderanged in Silver Linings that get more mesmerizing with everyoutburst. His potentially undiagnosed bi-polar disorder haunts him.From becoming furious at Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell To Arms” tomanaging his anger at Eagles games. Cooper delivers a performance forthe ages. It will earn his an Oscar Nomination for sure and he may be adark horse to win it, if the Academy wants to get cute and veer fromthe path of Joaquin Phoenix or Daniel Day-Lewis.
Andthen you have Lawrence who continues to prove that at 22-years-old sheis the cream of the crop in Hollywood and force to be reckoned with fordecades to come. She isn’t your typical model figured bimbo actress,she’s a master of her craft, who puts her heart into a role. There’s ascene where Pat and Tiffany are chasing each other through the Phillysuburbs and wind up in front of a diner. As they catch their breath,Pat asks Tiffany if she wants to have dinner at the diner they arestanding next to. She squints her eyes a tad as if something sneaky wasgoing on, and in the most flat way possible says “pick me up at 7:30”and runs away. It’s the little things that make for big performancesand Lawrence is in a league of her own. She too, like Cooper will begetting an Oscar nomination, it will be her second. In fact bothperformances by Cooper and Lawrence can be considered the best of theirrespective careers and that’s really saying something.
WhileSilver Linings would have probably been great with just Cooper andLawrence, the supporting cast adds so many layers to the film and thecharacters in the lead roles themselves. That alone needs to becommended; these are characters with dimensions. Jacki Weaver andRobert De Niro who play Pat’s parents are great. They understand theirsons condition and hope he can cope by being at home. De Niro who playsPat Sr. is a Philly bookie, big time Eagles fan and is ready to open upa restaurant. His gambling ways have led to kooky superstitions likehaving the T.V. remotes set up one way and holding onto an Eagleshankie during games. He also believes that when his son sits andwatches games with him, the Eagles will win games. Pat Sr. wants theEagles to be a way for he and his son to form a new bond a way ofspending quality time together. Weaver is very memorable as she alwaysis as Pats loving mother who spends Sundays in a Kevin Kolb Eaglesjersey making snack foods for the family when the game is on. De Nirodelivers a strong supporting performance for the first time in a while.It’s nice to see De Niro put some soul into a role. He did so in BeingFlynn and now here, a far cry from the other garbage films he has donelately.
ChrisTucker returns from his hiatus to play Danny, a friend Pat makes whilein the institution who ends up being a man for advice when he gets out.Anupam Kher plays Dr. Cliff Patel, Pats therapist and also big timeEagles enthusiast. He’s actually a great character in the film and notyour typical shrink.
Theaudience is front and center for a relationship of two head buttingrams. Pat is desperate to get his wife back; in order to do so he’sworking out and needs to prove he is sane and selfless. Pat’s wifeoften times hangs out with Tiffany’s sister so Tiffany agrees to get aletter from Pat to his wife Nikki IF he helps her with her dancecompetition. Through the dance practice and competition the bond andchemistry between Pat and Tiffany bubbles even more and leads to notonly comedy, but a fun dynamic.
At times the film feels like this years Blue Valentine or Like Crazy, two dark romance dramas that were the epitome of great.
SilverLinings Playbook is more then a dramatic rom-com; it’s about beingaccepted by someone regardless of your flaws. That level ofunderstanding of another human being that no one else can possiblyunderstand. Sometimes when two people are completely messed up, they’rejust fine together.
Russellcontinues to deliver Oscar worthy films as this is an absolute pleasureto watch, funny with tons of heart. It’s one of the best and mostenjoyable films of the year. It’s easily in my top five of 2012 and I’meven debating if it’s fighting for that #1 spot.
Your silver lining will be every second you spend sitting in the theater watching this body of work.
Asthe film ends in nice, albeit predictable fashion aside from thefeeling of immense satisfaction, I felt the hunger for more of Lawrenceand Cooper. They were that good that I craved to see them on screen foranother two hours. If that isn’t a testament to David O. Russell’sdirection, the screenplay, script and of course the leads then I don’tknow what else can possibly constitute a brilliant film.
SilverLinings Playbook and Russell prove that the best kind of love doesn’thave to be flowers and candy. It’s quirky and obscure and when no oneunderstands it, it can all make sense.