SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, THE
Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) has lost everything - his house, his job, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) and father Pat Snr (Robert De Niro) after spending eight months in a mental health facility. All Pat's parents want is for him to get back on his feet - and to share their family's obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his estranged wife Nikki (Brea Bee), but only if he'll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives.
Review by Louise Keller:
With disarming ease, David O. Russell's adaptation of Matthew Quick's novel about two like-souls who struggle to integrate into society, is both charming and gritty. The angst and difficulties of bi-polar and other mental conditions is never glossed over, nor is there any clumsy attempt at humour. What Russell artfully does, is draw us into the reality of a community where it is not only the protagonists, but their family and friends who are confronted by complicated issues. Outstanding performances by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence enable us to understand the two people at the story's heart: Cooper is edgy, while Lawrence is dynamite. We can't take our eyes off her. The result is a richly rewarding drama that describes a complex world juxtaposed next to everyday life at an incompatible angle. We are allowed to understand it and see its beauty.
Pat (Cooper) and Tiffany (Lawrence) bond over a conversation about their meds, at a family dinner at her sister Veronica's (Julia Styles). He behaves inappropriately; she has social problems. Together - they either make sense or are an explosive disaster. Pat wants to take all the negativity surrounding his broken marriage to create a silver lining; Tiffany wants to evolve from being the 'crazy slut with a dead husband'. It's a fiery relationship, whose flames fan the film's motor and propel all the outstanding issues to their ultimate conclusion. Baseball, dancing and gambling all play a vital part.
When Pat's mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) brings her son home from the Baltimore facility without mentioning it to her husband Pat Snr. (Robert De Niro), we know straight away that the family dynamic is volatile. Hooked to football and bookmaking, Pat Snr wants to invest in a restaurant but is hedging his bets. As the once-explosive father who now wants to bond with his son, De Niro has never been better, while Weaver is wonderfully warm and complementary as the caring mother who spends much of her time hand raised to the face in anticipation of an out of control situation.
Some of the football-related dialogue may fly over the heads of many (and bore others), but the scenes in which Tiffany entices Pat to learn to dance in her home studio are angled straight at the heart. Pat agrees to dance with Tiffany at the 'dance thing' (think 'Dancing with the Stars'), if she agrees to deliver a note to his ex-wife, who he is not legally allowed to contact - since 'the incident' that prompted his incarceration. Dancing proves to be the badly needed strategy for both Pat and Tiffany, although there are twists and bumps in the road ahead. There's truthfulness about the relationship between the two of them - look for the scene in which Tiffany accuses Pat of thinking she is crazier than him. It bears the ring of truth.
Tasanobu Takayanagi's often jerky camerawork accentuates the mindset of the protagonists beautifully, enabling us to understand the liquid nature of their mindset. Like his 2004 film I Heart Huckabees, Russell excels at portraying quirky, and Silver Linings Playbook offers unlimited such examples. Excelsior ('ever upwards' in Latin) is the mantra by which Pat lives and describes the feel-good nature of the film perfectly.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Steeped in American football culture and social patterns, this story reverberates with good intentions, a message of hope (silver linings ...) and a desire to go deeper than most romantic comedies. It pushes a tad too hard, in fact, often obvious and overstated, reaching for our sense of empathy for characters that hardly earn it. Yet there are some marvellous performances to savour, notably Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany, the catalyst of the story, and Chris Tucker in a small but endearing role. Jacki Weaver is great but gets very little to do, and Robert De Niro reassures with his return to dramatic form in a role that requires an oversize performance as the football-mad dad.
The first half of the film is intriguing and edgy, as the characters are established against the backdrop of demons and disasters of the family kind. Bradley Cooper is well cast as the troubled husband whose wife has had a restraining order against him ever since a certain incident with a third party, and he conveys his disorientation with verve. Although I have serious credibility issues with the manner in which a marital infidelity is portrayed - a wavering sentiment thoroughly reinforced by the end of the film.
For me it starts to fray about halfway through as it shifts into a more conventional mode, taking on the usual trappings of the genre and making its way to a predictable resolution (even if like me, you haven't read the book).
Perhaps my biggest disappointment is with the very premise (as indicated by my earlier loss of faith), which lacks the kind of credibility such a story demands; and that's despite the fact there is such a solid dramatic base on which to build. I can imagine how well the book reads, but as the late Anthony Minghella once said, there is a world of difference between a prose sentence and a movie sentence.
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SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, THE (M)
CAST: Bradeley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Julia Stiles, Paul Herman, Brea Bee, Cheryl Williams, Patrick McDade
PRODUCER: Bruce Cohen, Donna Gigliotti, Jonathan Gordon
DIRECTOR: David O. Russell
SCRIPT: David O. Russell (novel by Matthew Quick)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Masanobu Takayanaki
EDITOR: Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers
MUSIC: Danny Elfman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Judy Becker
RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 31, 2013
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.