Silver Linings Playbook

The Nominations:

  • Actor In a Leading Role – Bradley Cooper
  • Actor In a Supporting Role – Robert De Niro
  • Actress In a Leading Role – Jennifer Lawrence
  • Actress In a Supporting Role – Jacki Weaver
  • Best Picture – Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
  • Directing – David O. Russell
  • Film Editing – Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – Written by David O. Russell

The Black-and-White:

A review by spacedcowboy

Silver Linings Playbook is a very solid movie. It had multiple and interesting storylines, the acting was sublime, interesting character development and meaningful character arcs, and the film managed to keep a humorous touch while taking us into the lives of some uncomfortable characters. Bravo.

Here’s a synopsis from imdb.com:

Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Pat Solatano has lost everything – his house, his job, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother and father after spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain. Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife, despite the challenging circumstances of their separation. All Pat’s parents want is for him to get back on his feet – and to share their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. When Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives. Written by The Weinstein Company.

The fact that this picture received nominations in all four acting categories is noteworthy. The last time that happened was in 1981 with Reds, and no film in history has ever won all four. A Streetcar Named Desire, Network and Coming Home came close, each winning three. Only once has a picture so nominated not received at least one acting award, My Man Godfrey in 1936.

Silver Linings Playbook may receive either fate.

Bradley Cooper is a revelation. It may be the George W. Bush debate-effect – you expect so little of him then when he actually speaks (or in this case acts) coherently, it seems all the more powerful. Cooper, with a resume that includes a lot of very enjoyable films, does not have a reputation as a heavyweight, serious actor. That changed with this film. He was nuanced, consistent, powerful and convincing. A command performance. Bravo.

There is much buzz about Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, and I must say I am very impressed by this young actress. She was magnificent in A Winter’s Bone and I have heard nothing but praise for her performance in Hunger Games. She’s got game and a realistic chance of winning her first Oscar for this performance.

Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver were both outstanding. They created multiple layers of complexity on top of a complex story. They made family life fun and real and uncomfortable all at the same time. I don’t think wins are in store for either, but the nominations were well deserved. De Niro in particular has a high bar to cross, based upon his previous work, and I don’t know he made it here.

With such a pantheon of command performances, and with such success in the story, the other nominations make sense as well .Directing, Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture in particular. I am ambivalent about Film Editing, but I admit that is a category with which I always struggle. At least the film wasn’t 3 hours long so maybe there is a measure of success there as well…

The best part of this movie is its characters. As a faithful reader of my reviews will note, my issue with the modern film often lies in the lack of character development and character arcs. This story had these aplenty, and in an inspiration to all other movies, these stories were not reserved only for the main characters, but for the minor ones as well. This is a critical element of a story for the ages, and one that was refreshing to see.

In no way do I find this film fails. It sings, and rises, but for some reason, it does not soar. I’m not sure if it the uncomfortable subject matter, or the fact that the ending is perhaps just a little bit too sticky-sweet. Perhaps it is my own uninformed apprehension that the characterization of being bipolar was perhaps a bit too facile.

The film was clearly a labor of love for David Russell. This film fits well in the pantheon of his works. I found the following on wikipedia, and it equally applies here:

His next project was another independent comedy, Flirting with Disaster (1996), about a neurotic man (Ben Stiller) who travels with his wife (Patricia Arquette) and a high-strung caseworker (Téa Leoni) to find his biological parents. The film was well received by most critics.[8]Roger Ebert said of the direction, “Russell finds the strong central line all screwball begins with, the seemingly serious mission or quest, and then throws darts at a map of the United States as he creates his characters.”[9] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a ‘B’ and declared it “…one of the ha-ha funniest comedies currently at a theater near you.”

He has a consistent voice and I look forward to his next installments.

In summary: very solid film. I have no objection to Oscar wins for Cooper and/or Lawrence, although I think the latter perhaps has a more realistic chance. I hope it is not the last nomination for either.

Bravo.

 

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2 Responses to Silver Linings Playbook

  1. […] first review of the season is complete – Silver Linings Playbook. Great stories have great relationships and this one has them aplenty. Let’s […]

  2. […] We said: David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook” […]

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