We're Crazy Like That
One of the films that received the largest number of Oscar nominations for this year's edition of the Academy Awards, Silver Linings Playbook is one uplifting film in a long while, centered around a bipolar disorder sufferer released from an institution after eight months, to reunite with family and friends. Director David O. Russell trades the boxing gloves in The Fighter for romance, keeping the triumph of the human spirit as one of the themes in this film filled with hope that all good things come to those who persevere.
While some may balk at the lead pairing of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence for their age gap, they blow away their critics sharing great chemistry and acting craft opposite each other, that you'd root for their characters to overcome several obstacles placed in their way that threatens to tear apart the good things they share, despite spending most of the time bickering with one another, sometimes due to the fact of their bluntness and directness
Bradley Cooper plays Pat, who suffers from bipolar disorder and got into trouble with the law when he discovers his wife's infidelity, Now out of a mental institution, he has a loose strategy of gaining back his life based on constant exercise and therapy, while finding himself having to spend time with his dad Pat Sr (Robert De Niro) who is trying his best to reconnect with his son through football, and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the sister of his friend's wife (Julia Stiles), who has the means to serve as his conduit to wife Nikki (Brea Bee), who had served a restraining order on him.
Much of the scenes here naturally gravitate toward the broken souls of Pat and Tiffany, which forms the main bulk of the story given their awkward nature toward each other, that slowly grows on you. With Pat, we witness his manic attacks when the right buttons and triggers get pushed, trying his best to keep some sane semblance of a life without inconveniencing his family, while Tiffany battles from depression, as well as a rotten reputation of being the village bicycle of sorts after losing her husband. It's a tale about two broken people having to find strength in each other, and to continue identify and acknowledge the good in the people who have hurt them, and it grows on you emotionally.
What made David O. Russell's work stand out, boiled down to the excellent casting, and eventual delivery by the actors involved. Bradley Cooper shows off his acting chops here without needing to be overly melodramatic, playing a man obsessed with getting back at his wife, and may be missing the forest for the tree if continue to be obviously blindsided to the attention of another. Jennifer Lawrence had proven before with Winter's Bone that she can handle smaller, more personal roles rather than the commonly rote, big budgeted blockbuster ones from First Class to The Hunger Games, and continues to show why her star is rising, and is one of the best actresses of her generation.
The rest of the ensemble also chipped in with wonderful performances of their own. Robert De Niro is probably the go-to man to play fatherly roles these days, and he doesn't disappoint with his Pat Sr having shown favouritism to his other more successful son. Trying his best to re-connect with Pat Jr, he does so in the only way he knows how, through that of a football game, with stakes raised when he becomes the bookmaker in order to save enough for the opening of a restaurant. Chris Tucker also came in now and then to work his motor-mouth and spew some of the best comical lines in the film, while Jacki Weaver as Pat's mom brings a little touch as any mother character would toward the son, wishing for him to be better, and playing the key role in getting him discharged, to be taken care by family instead.
Cinematography by Japanese Masanobu Takayanagi made Silver Linings Playbook seem a little bit like a documentary with plenty of handheld scenes, while the soundtrack boasts an eclectic selection, with a score thrown in by Danny Elfman. Then let your heart be charmed by troubled people each seeking out a renewed chance to pick up the pieces in their lives, as well as the underlying romance in the movie. A definite recommendation, and clearly one of the highlights as best film.