¨The only way to beat my crazy was by doing something even crazier. Thank you. I love you. I knew it from the moment I saw you. I’m sorry it took me so long to catch up. ¨
Silver Linings Playbook is director David O. Russell’s second straight Oscar nominated film for Best Picture after the his critically acclaimed The Fighter. This film is very different from his previous work although it also has to do with family relationships in some sort of way. It is based on Matthew Quick’s novel of the same name and the screenplay was adapted by Russell himself which resulted in a really quirky but sharp script. There are plenty of hilarious moments in the movie and Russell has really raised the bar for rom-coms by mixing it with some realistic drama. These romantic comedies are very hard to come across these days, but Russell manages to deliver a nearly perfect one thanks to his sensitive direction. He did take a huge risk with this film considering its thematic was a bit tricky since the main character does require some patience and forgiveness from the viewer. He is not a very likeable character at the beginning, but if you stick with him and give him a second chance he will win you over. It is not easy to make a romantic film when you have two main characters suffering from bipolar and OCD disorders, and on top of that mix it with comedy, but Russell was very sensitive about the subject. I really love Russell’s style of direction, and you either love his movies or hate them. I really found this movie to be easy to connect with as it is a heartwarming and funny story despite the complications and tricky subject matter. Critics are calling this film crazy good, and I agree with them because it is deeply romantic despite being strange and neurotic. Besides we are all a little crazy, and I think Russell was pointing that out through every character in this film.
We are introduced to Pat (Bradley Cooper) in the very first scene of the movie, who is being discharged from a mental institution by his mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) against medical advice. Apparently Pat was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after finding his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), having an affair with a fellow co-worker and nearly beating him to death. He was sentenced to be institutionalized for eight months, and after doing so his mother was free to take him back to Philadelphia as long as he live with his parents and stayed away from his wife who had placed a restraining order on him. Pat is received with some surprise by his father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), who had no idea he was coming home, but Is happy to have his son back who he considers a lucky charm for the Eagles’ games. Pat Sr. is a very superstitious guy and after losing his job he’s been making a living through sports gambling. Pat’s life changes when he meets another troubled woman named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who has recently become a widow and a sex addict. Pat desperately wants to get back with Nikki and will do what it takes to win her back despite not being able to get near her. Tiffany offers to give Nikki a letter from him if he agrees to enter a dance competition with her for which they will have to rehearse extensively. Both characters suffer several meltdowns and seem to have some sort of shared neuroses, but in some odd way they end up helping one another and struggle together to rebuild their lives.
This film really deserves all the buzz that it received first from TIFF way back in September, and then from its recent eight Oscar nominations, including the big five (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay) which hadn’t happened since 2004 (Million Dollar Baby), and it also received Oscar nominations in all four acting categories, which hadn’t happened since 1981 (Reds). The cast is truly wonderful in this film, everyone gives such great performances. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence both expanded their range in this film and went way out of their usual comfort zone creating some unique characters. Lawrence especially surprised me with her quirky performance, and her entrance in the film truly shifts the momentum of the movie. I was really not sold with Silver Lining Playbook until she appeared giving Cooper´s character a lot more likeability. I loved her in two scenes; the first being the one she has a meltdown in the restaurant and goes off on Cooper and the second being the confrontation she had with Pat Sr. For those two scenes alone, Lawrence could win the Oscar. Cooper, De Niro, and Weaver were all outstanding as well. These characters were all well drawn and the actors took advantage of that delivering solid performances. The film has such a great pacing building the momentum up to the very climactic ballroom dance routine. It was something special. The message had a pretty positive outlook as Russell seemed to be reminding us that we should all look for a partner that can coexist with our craziness and not try to find one that will lead us out of it as we usually do. This was a great and optimistic film that deserves all the buzz it has been receiving.