Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Chris Tucker
Director: David O. Russell
Running Time: 2 hours, 2 minutes
Rating: R

It took me some time to get into “Silver Linings Playbook.” For the first 45 minutes, I just couldn’t get past how nuts these characters were. Also, I think I’m the only woman in the world not weak in the knees for Bradley Cooper. He is fairly believable as Pat, a man who went berserk after catching his wife cheating with an older man. He winds up in a mental hospital for 8 months, and returns home to a less than functional household. A father with anger issues and a helpless mother seem to just encourage his instability. His cheating wife may have set him off, but it’s fairly obvious that Pat’s issues are innate.

Watching Pat's emotional turmoil is pretty distressing: he is delusional, and believes he can win back his estranged wife if he reads the books on her teaching syllabus and loses weight. Pat seeks comfort in friends Ronnie and Veronica (John Oritz and the always amazing Julia Stiles), though they are also totally dysfunctional. I was torn between laughing at and crying for them. They introduce Pat to Veronica’s sister, Tiffany. Jennifer Lawrence is pretty convincing in this role, though it was really difficult for me to get past their obvious age difference. She is far too young for him. Tiffany comes with her own bag of problems, and is possibly more unbalanced than Pat. We’re not sure if her husband’s unexpected death made her crazy, or if there were issues to begin with; most likely the latter.

Robert DeNiro is brilliant as Pat’s distant and OCD father. In one scene, DeNiro effortlessly opens the flood gates, and we get a peek into Pat’s lonely and seemingly fatherless childhood. Jacki Weaver on the other hand, was rather odd casting as Pat’s mom, and didn’t add as much to the film as she did to 2010’s “Animal Kingdom.

Tiffany agrees to help Pat try to win his wife back, and in return, he promises to be her partner for a dance competition. As much as Pat tries to deny it, he soon realizes how fulfilling and therapeutic his time with Tiffany is. Chris Tucker makes a long-awaited return to the screen as Pat’s friend from the mental hospital. He is excellent comedic relief, encouraging Pat to “black it up” during a dance rehearsal. Though the anticlimactic dance sequence at the end leaves you wanting something more along the lines of “Dirty Dancing” or “Center Stage,” it seems these two individuals are healed and cleansed of their troubled pasts (for now.)

This film is getting major buzz, thanks to the Weinstein name attached to it. Though it’s an interesting and unique story, I was frightened for Pat and Tiffany – neither character seemed stable enough for a real relationship. It’s definitely not the best film I’ve seen this year, but I suppose I can understand why people are falling for it.

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