Silver Linings Playbook

Having already been seen by a number of people thanks to early festival screenings, Silver Linings Playbook’s early Oscar buzz can be seen as more than just hype.  This movie is already earning a reputation on more than just pure expectations.  The buzz is somewhat surprising, considering that the movie, at its core, follows the typical romantic comedy format.  But it is because the writing is so sharp, the characters so deep, engaging, and well-played by talented, popular actors that this movie is running up to the podium draped in a garbage bag; you know, “for sweat.”

Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a former schoolteacher who opens the movie as a resident of a Baltimore psychiatric hospital.  He lost his temper when he caught another man having sex with his wife and nearly beat the man to death.  Now that he is being released, he plans to get himself into shape both physically and mentally in order to win back his wife, who is also a teacher.  He does that by reading through the syllabus she has assigned her class for the semester and jogging around his Philadelphia neighborhood in the aforementioned garbage bag.

Bradley Cooper as Pat in Silver Linings PlaybookInvited to dinner at a friend’s house, Pat is introduced to Jennifer Lawrence’s Tiffany, a young widow with problems of her own.  After bonding over which medications they have each tried, the two of them work out a deal: he will be her partner in an upcoming dance competition and she will help him reconnect with his wife, who currently has a restraining order against him.  Meanwhile, Pat’s father is risking his entire life savings and the prospect of owning his own restaurant on a football game and needs Pat with him because he believes his son brings his beloved Eagles good luck.

A prime reason that Silver Linings Playbook is earning the so much early Oscar buzz is the fact that the movie features arguably the best acting ensemble in any movie this year.  There’s not a weak link in the cast that is headlined by two actors who are quickly rising to the top of the movie star heap.

After first finding box-office success as part of the wolf pack in The Hangover and then proving he can carry a movie on his own with the surprise hit Limitless, Bradley Cooper is finally given a chance by director David O. Russell to show off his acting range.  Playing a character diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Cooper is as neurotic as Woody Allen, as enraged as Robert DeNiro’s Raging Bull, and everything in between.  Accepting the challenge, the actor manages to make this character of extremes seem relatable to the audience and it is easy to root for the guy to get his life back together. Excelsior!

The perfect match for Cooper is Jennifer Lawrence, an actress who in the past few years has earned an Oscar nomination—this should be her second—and been a centerpiece for not just one, but two blockbuster franchises.  She delivers a fierce performance as Tiffany, who is intense enough to get Pat’s attention and tender enough to earn the audience’s affection.

The previously mentioned Robert DeNiro delivers one of the best and most open performances of his late career as Pat’s father, while Aussie Jackie Weaver comes stateside to play his mother.  Also worth noting is Chris Tucker, who is a delightful surprise in his first non-Rush Hour role since 1997.  Best known for playing loudmouth characters, Tucker holds back just enough here, but still manages to steal every scene that he is in; an impressive feat amongst this stellar cast.

The impressive work by the entire cast is not surprising, when you consider that this movie was written and directed by David O. Russell, a director who is quickly earning a reputation for directing stellar performances.  His last movie, The Fighter, earned three Oscar nominations for acting and won two.  His work as a director is slightly overshadowed here, however, by his fantastic script.  The dialogue is sharp, witty, and there is a whole lot of it.  The script also packs equal doses of drama and comedy, making Silver Linings Playbook both powerful and hilarious.

How the film will actually do come awards season still remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, the buzz is legit.

Silver Linings Playbook is rated R for “language and some sexual content/nudity.”  The language is the main concern here as the sexual content/nudity is rather brief.  Still, there’s enough to warrant the rating.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of Silver Linings Playbook.