Silver Linings Playbook is a charming and delightful comedy about two slightly damaged, chemically challenged people who circle each other in the wary yet graceful dance that two like souls are sometimes apt to.
Pat Soletano (Bradley Cooper, Oscar-nominated) is being retrieved from a mental health facility by his mother (Jacki Weaver, Oscar-nominated for Animal Kingdom) as the film opens. Pat has been assigned to this facility after a violent episode involving his wife and her lover, and has been prescribed a rainbow of medications.
That opening scene really sets the tone of director David O. Russell‘s (Flirting with Disaster, The Fighter) loving concern for all his characters, including the supporting players. One of those characters is introduced on their drive home, and Danny (Chris Tucker) is marvelous as Pat’s soft-spoken, funny, and caring friend.
Yes, Jennifer Lawrence is the star, and she won the Oscar for her performance, but the other actors are just too delectable not to describe, before her entrance. Jacki Weaver, an Australian actress, does so much with her big, expressive eyes that her terrific Philly accent is icing.
As Patrizio (Pat Sr.), Robert DeNiro (Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter) was also Oscar-nominated, and he too is a joy as the obvious forbear to Pat’s mental issues. Pat Sr. is the biggest Philadelphia Eagles fan in the universe, yet he can no longer attend home games because he got in too many fights at the stadium. Also wonderful are John Ortiz as Pat’s other loyal friend, and Anupam Kher as Pat’s psychiatrist.
Alright, it’s Lawrence time. Young girls love her for her portrayal of Katniss in The Hunger Games, and she has a second franchise with X-Men, but we here at The Video Station already know about her serious acting ability from Winter’s Bone, a dark little tale set in the meth-riddled Ozarks. Silver Linings Playbook allows her to show off an astounding mastery of screwball comedy, while also enthralling us with with great emotional depth. Film is by definition a visual medium, and Lawrence knows it – everything we need to know is in her astoundingly expressive eyes, right from the first moment we meet her. She is introduced to Pat, who has no governor on what he says, and the glances and stares she responds with are worth any number of pages of explanatory dialogue. She’s equally affecting in smaller, seemingly throwaway moments, like the one in which Pat helps her avoid an unwanted suitor, and her wordlessness speaks volumes, through her eyes. And yet her forceful physicality pops off the screen when she needs it to, especially in the dancing scenes. She has another film with Bradley Cooper, Serena, on the horizon, and in the book it’s a dark, juicy part – I can’t wait.
David O. Russell has done it again, directing a film in which many characters work together to solve a problem, communally. This vision harkens back to several directors of the classic film era, especially Howard Hawks in films like His Girl Friday and Only Angels Have Wings. Is he our most underrated director? – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 4/30/13