Reviews

REVIEW | Silver Linings Playbook


Directed by: David O. Russell
Written by: David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Released: 21.11.2012

Kind Hearts and Craziness

David O. Russell’s last film, The Fighter, was synonymous with the 2011 Oscars, and all the trappings that go with it: Crowd-pleaser. Awards bait. The director’s modus operandi for sharp comedic perspective (Three Kings) and unorthodox but ambitious fly-tipping of genres (I Heart Huckabees) seemed evanescent in the wake of the very straight-told Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg vehicle. Does Silver Linings Playbook restore his trend for sly weirdness? If the characters are anything to go by, he’s back faster than you can say xanax.

Recently released mental patient Pat (Bradley Cooper) is on the run. But he’s not running from anything; he’s desperate to get back in touch with his wife, after an incident involving him catching her and another man together blew him into a psychotic breakdown. However, there is plenty of jogging; this is where eager neighbour Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) regularly ambushes Pat to begin some kind – any kind – of real friendship other than meaningless booty calls. Herself psychologically damaged by the loss of her husband, the two embark to discover some (ahem) silver linings via a dance competition, football game bets, and all the humour, heartache and head-cases that fill the in-between.

The beating heart of this oddball rom-com is the genuine chemistry of Cooper and Lawrence, completely selling the oft-complex and dark realities of mental illness yet keeping them continually likeable. Russell conveys his characters’ deep, twisted angst convincingly while maintaining the breezy tone and pacing the genre typically infers, and while it’s no cinematographic masterclass, his knack for quiet but surprisingly rich plot points are the central drive of his movies; a memorably emotional turn from Robert DeNiro as Pat’s father shows us someone to initially raise an eyebrow at or laugh with, but who then displays himself as a helpless, loving individual without ever once smelling of bathos – a credit to not only the actor but Russell.

While it trots the line of conventionality most of the time, it does so with an ease enviable of most directors accustomed to more outlandish fare; Russell has still crafted a small gem of a dramedy, and while some of the parts don’t quite work (a confusing and unnecessarily complicated betting scene, for instance), it’s complete charm and generally corn-free face is refreshing in the climate of the genre where most films begin with ‘The…’ and are utter pants.

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About GaryGreenScreen

Freelance film critic.

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  1. Pingback: THE FILM JOURNAL | November 2012 « FilmOnTrial - December 4, 2012

  2. Pingback: THE FILM JOURNAL | November 2012 | FilmOnTrial - March 4, 2013

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Gary Green: Freelance film critic.

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