Written by: David O. Russell
Produced by: Bruce Cohen, Donna Gigliotti, Jonathan Gordon
Runtime: 122 minutes
Pat Solitano loves wife, there is no doubt about that. And after being released from a mental institution, all he wants to do is to see her.
That is not going to happen.
He is under a restraining order, prohibiting him to go anywhere near his parents are also having problems by the discomfort and disturbance Pat experiences as he stays home. Incidentally, as he tries to go back to the normal cycle of life, he starts jogging and meeting old friends. There he meets Tiffany, a young widow that he had known before. They spark an undeniable attraction to each other, but they also do not get along that well. Now, in order to ask Pat the big favour of joining a dance competition with her, Tiffany makes a deal with him to be the bridge of communication between him and his wife. In the process, Tiffany realizes that she got more than what she initially bargained.
Come to think of it, something must be said about the frontrunner/dark horse status that the film had during the awards season. The fact that a romantic comedy like this ended up as a serious contender is really something, a complete rarity (the last time that I can recall was in 1998 when Shakespeare in Love eventually won; no, I do not think 2011’s Midnight in Paris had anything much to do with the actual contenders). However, it should be no surprise at all since the film itself is quite great.
David O. Russell, the one that gave us 2010’s The Fighter, employs the same amount of energy that is evident in his last work and is even more visible here. Each scene is crafted with a surprisingly dark touch that makes the issues present in the characters more than just a leeway for more dramatic content. Instead, the choice to go dark at times is consistent throughout the film, giving the film a slightly bittersweet tone, and it all works, largely due to the intelligence present in its direction.
And the depth given to each situation and each character is also worth noticing. Each character is humanized, nobody is a walking caricature of a stereotype, and most importantly, we care for them. There are noticeable tonal shifts, but they are not jarring. There is care given in every scene, treating the mental illness side of the story with a deft handle of humor to make the jokes leaning on it not even close to offensive. Of course, there is the familiar ground of the romantic comedy, but it never felt tired or clichéd. Contrary to that, the scenes involving the romance feel fresh and extremely witty. With this film and The Fighter, Russell establishes himself as a director and screenwriter that cares much to the energy the same way with the soul.
The film also has a noteworthy technical proficiency. There are some interesting choices in the cinematography. The editing could not be any better. The music is unobtrusive to the storytelling. But seriously, when we talk about Silver Linings Playbook, we talk about the performances.
Bradley Cooper gives his role the distinct quality of familiarity that makes his character so easy to sympathize to even with his condition. His characters do some really unfortunate actions, so it is now left with Cooper to make amends with the audience to make us care for an initially dislikeable person. And that is where I must recognize him: for adding so much humanity to this character that we just simply surrender and completely give in to the poignancy of his work here.
To counter that is Jennifer Lawrence in a performance that really matches with the word astonishing. Each scene, she effortlessly holds everyone’s attention, and it all feels very natural and instinctive. It is as if she is a ticking bomb that is always near explosion. She brings a very on-the-edge feel to Tiffany, and her creation of that character is no less than stellar. She punches in the electricity that makes her character so fascinating to watch.
Robert DeNiro has been in the industry for quite some time already, but he never loses his touch. Here, he concocts Cooper’s instability with a fatherly assurance that feels sincere and profound. If you know DeNiro’s filmography, you might not be very much impressed by his work here, but by giving his character the delicacy that a father has. Jacki Weaver brings everything down to one word: home. Her warmth in every scene feels very close to the heart, and it feels very real. Again, if you have seen her towering performance in Animal Kingdom, you might not be fully impressed, but given the fact that she utilizes restraint to the fullest extent to benefit the realization of her character is very noteworthy.
Fans of the genre would be delighted with this one, but it is more than a mere crowd pleaser. It commits to the humanity of the characters unlike any romantic comedy film that I have seen. The film is packed with vibrancy and urgency that makes the film feel as if it is fully living. It provides a breezy film going experience that actually sticks with you as the end credits roll. Now, that is really something for a feel-good film.
For this, the film gets:
Agree or disagree?