“It can still be a date even if you order Raisin Bran.” – Tiffany
I could hardly think of a more appropriate Valentine’s Day post. Silver Linings Playbook, based on the Matthew Quick novel, has stolen some of the conventions of screwball comedies (the final act) and romantic comedies, but it’s first and foremost a simple drama.
Well, it’s an extremely complicated drama.
Pat (Bradley Cooper) has been released after 8 months in a mental institution for a violent crime. His ex-wife has taken out a restraining order to protect herself. It’s a wise move, because even though Pat greets everyone by telling them he’s better, he’s not as ok as he thinks. His friends invite him to dinner, where he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). The two become acquainted from there, and eventually Tiffany agrees to take Pat’s letters to his ex-wife if he will train for and enter a dance competition with her.
Director David O. Russell (The Fighter) creates a film as off-kilter as its main characters. It’s at times riotous, at others very sad (many have said it had them bawling, though I never quite got there). An intense Cooper is fantastic in the role of Pat, and it’s unfortunate that he has to go head-to-head with Daniel Day Lewis at the Academy Awards. He may have had a shot at an Oscar. Lawrence, as beautiful and charming as ever, certainly gets my vote. How she brings so much charisma to such a cold character is beyond me, and she displays at least as much range as the screenplay itself. She also looks fantastic throughout the movie. Robert De Niro plays Pat Sr., who has been banned from the Philadelphia Eagles’ home stadium for fighting. He’s great as always, but doesn’t live up to his freakishly lofty standards. This is a year I’d rather he didn’t take home a statue. And let’s not forget Chris Tucker! I have a soft spot for him and his cameo.
As I mentioned, the movie is a bit off-kilter. I wasn’t really sure what to think of it when it was over, and I’m not really sure now. I definitely liked it, but the unevenness of emotions as well as some genre clichés to dumb it down have given me pause. The acting and direction is stellar, as I expected, but for all the goodwill I’ve heard towards the film, it’s not one of my favorites of the year.