Silver Linings Playbook
This movie might have been my favorite movie of 2012. I don’t know if it’s the best movie I saw this past year (Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty are in the running.) but it’s definitely my favorite. I think that’s because it snuck up on me. I didn’t know all that much before stepping foot in the theater.
The plot of SLP is basically this: after a brief stay in a mental institution, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) moves back in with his parents (Robert DeNiro & Jacki Weaver) in order to try and get his life in order and get back together with his ex-wife. Along the way he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) a quirky, dark girl with her own issues. The two of them have such incredible on screen chemistry as they navigate the waters of healing and friendship.
Although this movie snuck up on me, critics are well aware of this quality film. Silver Linings Playbook garnered 8 Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director (Russell), Best Actor (Cooper), Best Actress (Lawrence), Supporting Actor (DeNiro), and Supporting Actress (Weaver). I think Cooper is a real dark horse to take home the Academy Award, which is saying something as he goes against such heavyweights as Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman, Denzel Washington, and Joaquin Phoenix.
I think so much of the film that David O. Russell is my choice for Best Director in a crowded and talented field including Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg.
In my mind, this movie really serves as Bradley’s Cooper’s coming out party. I know he’s been “on the scene” for years, but this movie really shows off his immense talent and his acting chops. He’s able to shine and reveal depth that just wasn’t possible in The Hangover or The A Team. Bradley Cooper’s direct and honest stream of conscience is refreshing albeit mostly inappropriate. His conversations and monologues occur at almost a constant, frenetic pace that totally show much conflict, thought, and turmoil are going on in his character’s head.
While Cooper is fantastic, Lawrence is every part his equal in this movie. She turns in quite the performance, and is no doubt, a fast rising 22 year old star. Even though DeNiro is a huge icon, he plays his role, contributes to the group dynamic, and doesn’t over play his hand.
Clearly, this cast is filled many great actors, but Russell didn’t stop there. He uses the Philadelphia Eagles from the NFL as another central character in the movie and the family dynamic. It’s a pretty cool idea that helps develop a great ‘depth of flavor.’
This movie also answers the question, ‘What ever happened to Chris Tucker?’ He plays a friend of Cooper’s in this movie, his first, as far as I can tell, since Rush Hour 3 in 2007. It also helped me rediscover the incredible song ‘Girl from North Country’; the best version of which is done by Johnny Cash with Bob Dylan. Seriously, go listen to it now.
There are no explosions or special effects, but if you like thoughtful conversations, vulnerability, and flawed people being real then you’ll love this movie. The message of this film is that we are each a bit messed up on some level, and we need to be ok with each others’ baggage and messiness. What a beautiful and worthwhile message to put on screen. Enjoy!