Director: David O. Russell Writer: David O. Russell (screenplay) and Matthew Quick (novel) Cast Members: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jackie Weaver Runtime: 122 min Rating: 14A
Silver Linings Playbook is a film that is difficult to categorize. Too dark to be a romantic comedy and too humorous to be a serious drama, I refer to this movie as a “dark dramedy”. The film combines the best features of several genres, resulting in a movie that is fun to watch yet deals with the weighty and often painful issues at its core thoughtfully and with respect.
When former teacher Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) returns to his family home after spending time recovering in a mental institute, he struggles to reintegrate himself into his daily life. His obsessive compulsive father (Robert De Niro), well meaning mother (Jackie Weaver), and mysterious, troubled new friend Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) present him with new challenges that ultimately aid him in his quest to remain positive and to continually recognize the silver linings all around him. Directed by David O. Russell.
This film is a good-hearted representation of easily likable people struggling with mental illness. Although the issues are serious, the tone remains light enough to avoid unsettling any viewer; far from being a critique, I believe this tactic to provide a highly enjoyable and recommendable film that causes one to laugh as well as to think. Although their struggles may cause them to lash out at each other at times, the characters are essentially lovable humans with whom it is easy to relate. While the movie is endearing and the actors’ presentations are entertaining and engaging, I do not believe them to be Oscar-winning performances.
Although this film did receive a Best Picture, Director, and Editing nomination, making it one of what many consider to be only three competitors up for the ultimate prize, I believe it to be unlikely to win against the weighty Lincoln and visually stunning Life of Pi. Notably, this movie is one of only fourteen in Academy Awards history to receive nominations in all four categories of Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress, these recognition’s going to Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jackie Weaver, respectively. While no film has won in all four categories, two, A Streetcar Named Desire and Network, received the top award in three. While strong, Cooper’s performance will likely not hold up in his category against the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis; I actually believe that John Hawkes’ portrayal of a severely disabled man in The Sessions was a significantly more challenging role and a performance more worthy of recognition from the Academy than Cooper’s. Similarly, De Diro and Weaver presented engaging characters but are unlikely to take home their respective prizes. Lawrence, on the other hand, is a front-runner in her category, although I found her character to be overly exaggerated at points when compared to the stunning subtlety crafted by fellow nominee Emmanuelle Riva for her performance in Amour or the heartrending struggle Naomi Watts depicted as an individual struggling for life while attempting to protect her family in The Impossible.
A highly enjoyable film that also addresses serious issues with tact and respect, it is no wonder that Silver Linings Playbook received that Fan Favourite Award at this years Toronto International Film Festival. Yes, the plot may be predictable, but the fulfillment of audience expectation may be part of what makes one feel so good coming out of this film.