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Friday, November 16, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook Review

The Weinstein Co.
Silver Linings Playbook Review
2012, 122 minutes
Rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity

Now this is one of a handful of films that actually deserves the Oscar buzz that it is getting.  Argo was good, but wasn't suspenseful or emotionally engaging enough, Life of Pi had some serious emotional moments and was visually stunning, but had an uneven script, and Lincoln was flat-out boring, but technically solid and featured an amazing performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.  But, we have a winner on our hands with David O. Russell's (The Fighter, Three Kings) Silver Linings Playbook, a film that follows Pat Solitano, a man with bipolar disorder who, after getting out of jail on a plea bargain, tries to look for the "silver linings" in life and get his wife back.  But, while trying to accomplish this, he meets Tiffany, a young woman with problems similar to his, who helps him in his quest to turn his life around.

The acting in this film is all-around fantastic.  Bradley Cooper, an actor not known for his superior acting ability (he is always good, however, just nothing stellar), but known for his roles in big mainstream films like The Hangover, nails his performance as Pat.  He gets almost every nuance of his character and shows some serious heart and soul in this role.  He was magnetic every time he was onscreen and I would not be surprised if his performance gets some awards attention.

Co-starring with Cooper is the always-amazing Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany.  As Tiffany, she is tough, but sweet and vulnerable at the same time.  Like Cooper, she nails every nuance.  Do not be surprised if she too gets some serious awards attention (a second Oscar nomination is very likely coming her way).

The supporting cast is all great, but the standout is Robert De Niro as Pat's incredibly superstitious father who either has or borders on OCD.  He brings a real passion and warmth to his role that he hasn't shown in years (this could be because he has been in some awful films).  Expect an Oscar nomination for him.

David O. Russell is on a roll.  The Fighter was one of the top five best of 2010, and now Russell made this?  Two hits in a row.  He seems to have a way with actors that very few other directors have.  He and his actors get into the characters and really bring them to life.  The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook both are very character-driven which makes for really compelling films.

Another aspect of Russell's direction that is superb is the pacing.  He rarely lets the pacing slow and I was never bored during the movie.  It always helps when the director wrote the film too because they seem to know what pace to keep with their film.  Russell's screenplay is wickedly funny, but also moving and honest which is an impressive feat.  The film deals with mental illness in an honest way that never is exploitative and the comedy and drama are well-balanced (the film is definitely more comedy, though).  The film follows a familiar arc, but Russell infuses it with so much wit, humor, and life, that the familiarity of the arc is easily forgiven.

Finally, I must say just how much I enjoyed watching the film.  It is so rare to see a movie that actually inspires me to try to find the "silver linings" in life, but this one really worked some magic on me.  After the film was over, I felt invigorated and energized.  In short, I felt good, which is a hard feat for a movie to pull off.

Overall. Silver Linings Playbook, while not a perfect film, is still truly stellar, with a third act that is unforgettable.  This is a must-see film for anyone who loves going to the movies.  You'll see this one pop up on Oscar ballots.

-Joshua Handler

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