Here we have another film that falls into the same category as movies like Wreck-It Ralph and Cloud Atlas: a film that everyone in the USA has seen and praised intensely, but wasn’t released in the land of us Vikings until, well, quite recently. The film in question? Silver Linings Playbook.
Directed by David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook is a film that I may not regard on the same level of greatness as most critics have since its original release (I had hardly even heard of it until I watched the Oscars back in February), but I nevertheless enjoyed what I saw when getting a chance to see it and ultimately had a good time watching it the other day.
Our hero, Pat Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper) returns home to his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) after a mental health care institution where he’s been receiving treatment for his bipolar disorder. His number one desire is to make amends with his ex-wife Nikki, but a restraining order prevents him from making contact with her. Things become more complicated when an equally troubled lifeform, namely Tiffany Maxwell (played by Jennifer Lawrence), enters his life. The two eventually become friends and ultimately decide to help each other out. Will I be astounding anyone if I reveal that a romance begin the two begins to blossom.
While Tiffany helps Pat make up with his ex, Pat agrees to help Tiffany create a dance number for an upcoming contest. There’s a few subplots amidst it all, including Robert De Niro’s beliefs that Pat brings him the good luck he needs to succesfully bet money on his favorite football team and the release of Pat’s “inmate” and new best friend Danny, played by Chris Tucker in his first movie role since Rush Hour 3. We also get some of the usual romance film clichés – the misunderstanding, the near-constant shifting between being friends and being angry at each other, the moping, the cutesiness, and so on. I was even able to predict the exact moment and context when the hero was going to do a title drop. However, I’d be lying if I said it was as tiresome as most romantic movies tend to be.
The film is adapted from a novel by Matthew Quick and like too many books out there, I have not yet read it, but dealing with subject matters such as depression and mental instability, it would probably be right up my alley. As for the movie version, though, my final verdict falls a bit short of “masterpiece”.
There were admittedly some things in the film that bothered me. There is a scene that consist of Robert De Niro arguing with just about every side character in the film about how much money he should bet on the upcoming football game as well as the dance contest, and honestly, it went on for a little too long. Also, the way the others lured Pat into agreeing on showing up to the dance contest by lying to him that Nikki would be there seemed a little to easy. I felt as though he fell for it just as easily as “a child who had just been promised candy by his parents to get him to go to the dentist”, to quote a girl I saw the movie with. But really, these flaws don’t take you out of the film itself.
It is mainly the compelling characters and performances that make the flaws of Silver Linings Playbook excusable, particularly that of Jennifer Lawrence, who rightfully earned an Oscar for her role as Tiffany. I wasn’t certain whether or not I liked her very much in The Hunger Games but in this movie, oh I most definitely did like her and am hoping to see her in more great films in the future. There, I said Jennifer Lawrence can act. Are you happy now, Lawrence’s Tumblr fangirls?
Does Silver Linings Playbook suffer from the predictability of most romantic movies? Sometimes, maybe, although I still must admire it for its courage to present us with complex, troubled characters with heart-breaking dilemmas and not just go for the sappy rom-com route and feature just about as many excting surprises as an Andy Warhol movie. It is sometimes sad, sometimes endearing, sometimes depressing, sometimes uplifting and sometimes really funny – I’d say you should go see it, but looking at the original release date for this things, I’m going to assume most of you already have.
Will I give Silver Linings Playbook a spot on my list of great films I saw this year? Maybe not. I mean, if my “Best Movies of 2013” list consists of nothing but movies from 2012, I’m sure it will turn out to be a pretty crappy list.