Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jackie Weaver
Director David O. Russell follows his Oscar winning The Fighter with the equally statue-worthy Silver Linings Playbook. Pat (Bradley Cooper) finds himself living back with his parents after spending 8 months in a mental institution. He’s set on reconciling with his ex-wife, against the wishes of Pat Snr (Robert De Niro) and Mum Dolores (Jackie Weaver). Things get more complicated when he literally runs into Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
With 8 Oscar nods, Silver Linings Playbook is also the first movie in 31 years to bag the 4 acting categories. Russell’s knack to form eclectic ensemble casts and extract quirky performances is second to none. His ability to slip humour into serious moments throughout SLP means it never gets bogged down in drama. Plus Japanese cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi (Warrior, Babel) backs him up with some lyrical hand-held work, especially on the dance floor finale.
Bradley Cooper finally sinks his teeth into a decent drama (along with the upcoming The Place Beyond the Pines), after a string of roles coasting on his easy charm. At first I didn’t buy him as a mental patient but they easily explain his good looks and you’re soon laughing at his hilariously inappropriate comments. All grown-up Jennifer Lawrence is a fine foil to Cooper too. She shines in many scenes, a stand out being where she stands up to one Robert De Niro. Funnily enough she beat Anne Hathaway to the role, but will now probably lose to her at the Oscars.
De Niro for once isn’t playing a caricature of himself. Reminding us he still has it by adding subtle layers to his fractured relationship with his son. Jackie Weaver (Animal Kingdom) does well with not much to work with, though not enough for an Oscar nod really. Extra support comes from MIA actors Julia Stiles and Rush Hour’s Chris Tucker (who has a brilliant running gag).
The Weinstein brothers brought the rights to the book before it was published and it’s proved a winner. It’s a solid crowd-pleasing and touching story that doesn’t give the game away too early. Though some complaints may be made at how ‘Hollywood’ they tackle mental illness. Has it ever looked so good?
Russell scores a touchdown with his Silver Linings Playbook team. Most of the acting nom’s are worthy but sadly Cooper and Lawrence will lose out to shoe-ins Hathaway and Day-Lewis. It’s an easy bet for a V-day date movie and one of best of the year.
Watch the trailer for Silver Linings Playbook here: