Continuing from where I left last week, the second film from 2012 I watched and will be commenting on is Silver Linings Playbook. This motion picture was directed by David O. Russell, whose films may never have won an Oscar, but if you are an ambitious little actor/actress and you want to win the nomination for the best actor/actress of the year this is the director for you. This man directed seven Oscar nominated actors for best performances, such as: Christian Bale (aka Batman), Amy Adams (aka Giselle from Enchanted), Melissa Leo (aka Ray Eddy from Frozen River) and Robert De Niro. These names that show us, that Mr Russell does not work with scraps from the bottom of the barrel.
The plot is ingeniously put together and lets you gain a sympathetic and analytical perspective of the characters. This film tells the story of a man that went through a mental meltdown and how he manages to overcome his issues. The narrative is so well written that it actually managed to make me laugh out loud, and it came to no surprise when I discovered that this film is an adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel that bears the same name as the film. Lately, Hollywood has lost its imagination and almost everything it produces is either an adaptation or is inspired from real life events.
Silver Linings Playbook begins by presenting us Patrick Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper) in a mental institution going through his daily routine there. He is released from the hospital by his mother and put in his parents care. We are informed that he has been in that institution for eight months due to a violent outburst, when he found his wife Nikki (Brea Bee) cheating on him with a common work colleague. When he returns, his father (Robert De Niro) informs him that his wife moved away and that she has a restraining order against him. Despite that, Patrick is convinced that Nikki will take him back if he does everything she ever wanted from him.
He attends dinner at his friend Ronnie (John Ortiz) where he meets Ronnie’s sister in law, Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence). Tiffany’s husband has recently died and soon after, she lost her job, events that led to a neurosis, similar to Patrick’s. They develop an odd friendship and Patrick sees an opportunity to talk to Nikki through Tiffany, who promises to give her a letter from him. In return he needs to participate with Tiffany in a dance contest. Everything is going fine until his father asks him to go with his big brother and friends to a Philadelphia Eagles game, on which he has bet all of his money as a good luck charm. Patrick skips practice with Tiffany and gets in a fight with some racists toughs. His father loses the bet and his temper, arguing with everyone including Tiffany. This next part is the climax of the film, where after the argument that Tiffany has with Patrick’s father, they decide to make a parley in order to win all the money back.
I loved this movie because it is fun and sad at the same time, causing a combination of emotions while you watch it. The acting is incredible and it feels so natural that it draws you, it makes you lose yourself in the film. Cooper and Lawrence mirror the characters from the book so well that they seem to fit together like two puzzle pieces. The script is incredibly well written, the jokes make you laugh, which I consider an accomplishment. In arguments, every line seems meticulous put in place allowing you to feel the tension. It is not enough for a film to be either filmed well, have a good script or good actors. An incredible film needs to have all these factors ingeniously put together, and ladies and gentlemen, this one right here has it all.
The only issue I had with it was the ending. It just seems too sudden and left a few questions unanswered. In the end Tiffany and Patrick end up together, which was obvious from the beginning, and I do not mind it, but something is missing. This man obsesses about his wife the whole film and then when he finally sees her at the ending, he goes to her, whispers something into her ear and goes after Tiffany… It just leaves you with a feeling of emptiness and asking yourself: What? This is it?
Overall this is the best American comedy I saw in years and I am sure I will not see one of its kind very soon. It shows that in order to have a good comedy, you need to combine it with a good drama, otherwise it is simply superficial and alienating.