Film Review: Amazing Ensemble Rewrites ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
CHICAGO – It’s funny that a movie with the word “Playbook” in its title is so clearly about how those of us who think we know exactly where life is taking us are merely kidding ourselves. Like so many of us, the hero of “Silver Linings Playbook,” Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper), has a plan to find happiness, to find his silver lining. David O. Russell’s excellent comedy is about how one needs to adjust their playbook, taking chances that are in front of them and going in a direction that require a new page in their life story. It’s smart, edgy, and filled with some of the best performances of the year. Almost every year there’s an adult comedy that really connects with audiences to the degree that even the Academy recognizes its quality (“Up in the Air,” “As Good As It Gets,” “Jerry Maguire,” “Sideways”). For 2012, that film is “Silver Linings Playbook.”
With the kind of screenwriting adaptation work that merits comparison with Oscar winners like Alexander Payne, Russell brilliantly takes Matthew Quick’s novel and turns it into so much more than the generic comedy it could have been in another filmmaker’s hands. Russell finds the truth in what is a relatively simple set-up of boy meets girl while trying to win back another girl. We’ve seen this movie before. It doesn’t break ground. And we’ve seen stories of people dealing with depression and other mental illnesses. Nothing new there. What separates “SLP” is the brilliant way that Russell grounds these characters in more than movie archetype and how he directs his stellar cast to one of the best ensemble performances of the year, one that will certainly land two acting Oscar nominations and could net three.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Silver Linings Playbook” in our reviews section.|
The film opens with Pat being released from a mental hospital and being picked up by his mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver). Friend Danny (Chris Tucker) could also use a ride home to Philly but it’s quickly discovered he wasn’t actually released. It’s a comedic moment but it also sets up something about Pat’s character. He’s not one to openly accept what’s in front of him. Just going home isn’t enough. He wants to take his friend with him. And anger at a world that sometimes only gives us what we need and not what we want has led Pat down some dark roads. “Silver Linings Playbook” is about Pat finding a new road.
It turns out that Pat was hospitalized after nearly beating a man to death. The fact that the man he bludgeoned was in a shower with his wife might make it a bit more understandable but it’s left Pat shattered. He wants to get back with his wife and doesn’t quite understand the restraining order put upon him. Living with his parents – dad Pat Sr. is played by Robert De Niro – Pat rekindles a friendship with Ronnie (John Ortiz) and his wife Veronica (Julia Stiles), who happens to be friends with Pat’s ex. He hopes that Ronnie & Veronica can help him get his marriage back together and uses Veronica’s sister Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) to help him in that pursuit.
Silver Linings Playbook
Photo credit: The Weinstein Company