Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
Nominated for 8 awards, of which it won 1.
Nominated for Best Picture (Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon), Best Director (David O. Russell), Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), Best Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver), Best Adapted Screenplay (David O. Russell), and Best Film Editing (Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers).
Won Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence).
Watched January 24, 2014.
Silver Linings Playbook is your average rom-com story, but with creative and unique characters that take the film up a notch. It is no wonder that it received so much recognition from the Academy, and if it weren’t for some stiff competition, Cooper might have been accepting an award right alongside Lawrence.
Pat (Bradley Cooper) has spent the last eight months in a mental hospital. He found his wife in the shower with another man and almost beat him to death. He found out in the hospital that he is bi-polar and has been struggling with it his whole life. Against his doctor’s wishes, Pat’s mom Dolores (Jackie Weaver) gets him out on court approval and he moves back in with his parents with one goal in mind–get healthy and get Nikki. His wife Nikki (Brea Bree) has placed a restraining order on him, but Pat will do anything to get her to see that he is better and that he is good enough for her.
While having dinner at his friend’s house, he re-encounters Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a recent widow who is just as messed up as he is. After only an hour or so she makes him walk her home and then offers him sex, but Pat insists that he’s married. They begin an unlikely friendship in which their problems sometimes complement each other and other times result in public embarrassments and encounters with the cops.
Tiffany’s sister is Veronica (Julia Stiles) who is friends with Nikki. Pat wants Tiffany to get a letter to Nikki explaining how much he has improved, but Tiffany decides that she will only do it for something in return, which is how Pat gets roped into doing a dance competition with Tiffany. Pat’s dad, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) hates Tiffany because he thinks she’s messing up the Eagle’s juju.
Pat’s relationship with his family is complicated, and it is obvious that his dad probably struggles with the same emotional problems that he does. His mom fights for both of them, hoping that love will cure them both although she always seems anxious about her men. Pat senior makes a living from betting on the Eagles games and Pat Jr. is his good luck charm.
While the end of the story is pretty typical and the rest of the time Pat is pretty good at playing the hero, the remainder of the film does a really good job of showing an honest and raw view of Pat, his family, and what they are going through. Tiffany seems like she’s had an extra helping of crazy but Pat slowly brings her down to earth. Both Cooper and Lawrence fully inhabit their roles and bring a reality to them that is exquisite, especially from Cooper whose previous appearances in films such as The Hangover didn’t show the abilities that he possesses.
Despite the fact that Lawrence is pretty hot right now and I am a fan of hers, I think she deserved the Oscar that she won. She became Tiffany, leaving behind the teen Katniss from The Hunger Games and embracing more of the Ree from Winter’s Bone (that earned her a nomination in 2011), she went all out. Cooper also did the role justice. My favorite scene was when he could not find his wedding video and a terrific family fight ensued in which the cops were called and a teenage neighbor showed up with a video camera. I could feel Cooper’s frustration and his loss of control while his family tried to help instead of escalate the situation.
The film is kept pretty muted as far as colors go and the comedy is all appropriate and well timed. David O. Russell obviously did an amazing job directing this film and while I didn’t find the editing particularly unique, it got the job done (aka it was invisible, as it should be). The visuals and behind the scenes are all top notch, but the thing that makes the film for me is the characters and the actors who inhabit them.
If you can handle a good amount of swear words and a little bit of crazy, I would definitely recommend Silver Linings Playbook to you. While it might be a romantic comedy, your guy will enjoy it as much as your girl (Cooper and De Niro don’t hurt, and the football talk is good as well). If you don’t have this film on your Netflix list yet I don’t know what’s wrong with you.