Posted by: ckckred | January 12, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in David O. Russell's newest film

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in David O. Russell’s newest film

Before I start my review, let me just say I’ve never really embraced director David O. Russell’s films.  I think he is a talented director but never considered him at the same level as his fellow contemporaries like Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze, or Wes Anderson or have ever really truly loved any of his films (with the exception of The Fighter).  I was one of the people who couldn’t stand I Heart Huckabees, so I really didn’t know what to expect before seeing Russell’s newest film, Silver Linings Playbook.  Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised.  I hesitate to call Silver Linings Playbook one of the year’s best movies, but it is one of the stronger films I’ve seen all year and changes my perspective I have on Russell.

Silver Linings Playbook is about Pat (Bradley Cooper), a teacher who just leaves from an eight month stay at a mental hospital after beating up a man who has an affair with his wife Nikki.  Nikki puts a restraining order on Pat, forcing him to move back with his mom Dolores (Jacki Weaver) and father Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), a big Eagles fan.  Pat soon meets a recently widowed woman named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) at a friend’s dinner part, who says she’ll give  Nikki the letter if Pat helps her for a big dance contest.  Pat agrees, and both practice while his father tries to reconnect with him.

Like Russell’s other films, Silver Linings Playbook is a family drama.  It deals with the relationship between Pat Jr. and Sr., and establishes itself in a set of family values.  But Silver Linings Playbook is also a screwball comedy which is filled with the brim with many gags, some of which are very funny and clever.  I was reminded of the TV show Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Both shows make use of arguments as comic foil and I suspect much of the film was improved.

The movie’s greatest strength lies not in its script but in its actors.  I can’t deny Russell’s film has great performances.  Bradley Cooper is typically an actor I find smug but he was strong here.  Lawrence has received much praise deservingly in her role as Tiffany.  I think Robert De Niro though deserves the most credit.  De Niro’s my favorite actor, and I feel that he hasn’t had a good role for about fifteen years or so.  But he’s excellent here, and I’m glad he won an Oscar nomination.

Still, I wouldn’t call Silver Linings Playbook a perfect film.  There were some bumps and a few problems I had, all very minor.  But it’s certainly deserving of all the accolades it has received thus far this year.  After this I’m more willing to see Russell’s next movie.

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Responses

  1. You mention I Heart Huckabees, which I’m surprised Russell directed, after SLP. Haven’t seen it, nor have I heard one bad thing about it. I think Huckabees is the definitive love-it-or-hate-it-film: our blogger friend Fernando once said he actually stopped the movie halfway through (a rental copy), broke it in half, and threw it away haha, but if you look on Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes, the love for it is amazing.

    A personal story about SLP: my mother seems to love proving that she’s getting old. Every movie I’ve BEGGED to see for the last few months, she claims she’s never heard of. She skims through the Oscar noms: “Life of Pi? How come you just saw that? / What the hell’s an Amour? Isn’t that the song that’s been used in the TV commercials? / Silver Linings Playbook, I thought you’d want to see that? Are you depressed?” (No mother I’m not depressed you’re just losing brain cells haha.)

    Great review.

    http://www.themoviefreakblog.com

    • I actually don’t remember anything about what I Heart Huckabees was about (I don’t think I even finished it). I just remember disliking it so much. SLP is probably Russell’s most accessible work and I’d label it his second best after The Fighter. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I hear so much buzz about this, looking forward to seeing it.

    • This is a good movie and I’d say it’s my second favorite Russell film after The Fighter. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Can’t wait to see this, if only for DeNiro. He’s my favourite also and it’s grey to hear that he’s back in awards contention. Nice one man!

    • De Niro’s great here and this is his best performance in about fifteen years or so. He’s my favorite actor as well and I’m glad to see him in a strong role. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Great review. One of my favorite movies of the year because of its heartfelt material, that never stopped making me laugh and have a big smile on my face.

    • Russell really balanced the humor and drama really well. This has been one of my favorites this year as well. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Nice review. I agree about DeNiro. This was his best performance in years. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing as well. I can’t say I was shocked when all 4 leads got the oscar nod.

    • Thanks. Yeah, it was great and it deserved the awards it has received thus far this year.

  6. I really loved this film as well. All four acting categories from this film got nominated. Hasn’t happened in 31 years since ‘Reds”.

    • I was surprised how much I liked it. It deserved to have all four leads to be nominated. Thanks for commenting.

  7. Agreed on all accounts. I don’t think this was one of the year’s absolute best, but I really enjoyed it. Great to see De Niro back in proper form, and Cooper/Lawrence had wonderful chemistry.

    • I would put in my top ten currently, but I probably wouldn’t put it very high. De Niro was great and Cooper and Lawrence were fantastic as well. Thanks for commenting.

  8. Definitely NOT a “perfect film” by any means… but ironically enough, I think its biggest strength is in its imperfect characters. 😀 You really wind up rooting for these messed up people! LOL

    • The characters were great. I’d like to see Russell make more films like this. He’s really good at making these kind of movies. Thanks for commenting.


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