Friday, November 16, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook Movie Review

My review of Silver Linings Playbook

The silver linings abound in the impossibly endearing Silver Linings Playbook, a glorious mash-up of a mental health issues-rom-com film that is far too cheeky and whip smart to, surprisingly, be a mainstream release. Director David O. Russell (Three Kings, I ♥ Huckabees, The Fighter) adapts Matthew Quick’s 2008 novel about a down-on-his-luck former high school teacher fresh out of a month stint in a mental health hospital. Hell-bent on “winning back” his estranged, restraining-order-wielding wife, Pat (Bradley Cooper) is staging a Rocky-like comeback physically (complete with jogging with a garbage bag on top of his running clothes so he can sweat more) and mentally, by reading his way through the high school English syllabus. Oh, and there is this “dance thing” too that he has agreed to do with the self-described “crazy slut with a dead husband” Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). While Silver Linings Playbook does rely on some tried and tested rom com tropes, this is a far cry from jam-in-every-underdog-story-cliche film.

The family interaction in Silver Linings Playbook strongly parallels the one in The Fighter. Screaming is abound, whether boisterous or bellicose, and the love for the Philadelphia Eagles binds and breaks and is the sports grease that oils the family emotional machine. Jackie Warner’s pacifist mother character is instantly likable. DeNiro brings in his Meet The Parents experience to bear, playing Pat Sr. with impeccable comedic timing. Much ado about something and nothing, obsessive sports betting, and idiosyncracies aside, the take away message is this is one crazy and crazily non-dysfunctional family that loves each other.