Saturday, February 16, 2013

"Silver Linings Playbook" (2012) - Movie Review

Does it make me a Debbie downer if I think the happy ending of “Silver Linings Playbook” is little too happy for an underplaying movie like it? May be I am drawn too much towards the depressing drama of its first half but this as any review of mine is a discovery process than a sudden judgment. Having put a pin on that thought, it has to be said that David O. Russell’s film depends on heavy weight performance and it is being delivered in the parts it is genuine and even when they are not themselves.

Jacki Weaver whom I just saw for first time as the vicious character of Smurf in “Animal Kingdom” flips back and does a lovable mother to Pat Jr. (Bradley Cooper) and a loving understanding wife to Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro). It is welcomingly emotional almost to make up for the devious character she did in “Animal Kingdom”. When you compare characters played different films by an actor and believe in their characteristics, this is the kind of feeling you begin to realize. In “Silver Linings Playbook” she gets her son Pat out of the mental health facility after 8 months of treatment for his bipolar disorder. He broke down after his wife Nikki cheated on him which led to his outrage of beating her lover to pulp.

Pat returns to home where his father is not particularly proud of him and the community he left has rushed him to categorize him as the one to stay away. This though is not about his neighbours or his past work place but about his acceptance of a problem. He begins to strategize on getting his wife back. Except him everyone knows the impossibility of such a come back but as anyone caught in the web of emotional outpouring especially with Pat’s condition, he clings on. He sternly believes that will be his true completion of coming out of this slump.

Pat Sr. is bipolar as well with his OCD and strong superstition on placing things and situating people so that his NFL team Philadelphia Eagles would win games for him and profit him as well as he is bookmaking. Despite that he seem to have been let down by his son Pat. We learn why once we identify the oddity and the adamance of discarding advice and rejecting to take medications on treating his condition. He almost makes it a habit of waking his parents up in the middle of the night when he could not deal with a situation. One such is when his frustration in not able to find his wedding video that leads to a painful scene and watching Jacki Weaver’s Delores pulls your heart out.

This makes one wonder on how Delores appears to live with these men and work out a deal with herself to hope for happiness and stability in the family. There is love amongst these people and when Pat’s brother Jake (Shea Whigham) comes along we see the best of their times. I have to talk about Shea Whigham who has mostly come across as a creepy dude more of a side note in many films but here he radiates into a role that carries the oddity he has portrayed in other films but also a caring man for his family. If you do not know him that well, go and see “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans” where he plays as the rough and goofy customer to Eva Mendes’ character. Along with him are Chris Tucker as Pat’s best friend Danny and a talented Indian actor Anupam Kher playing Pat’s psychiatrist.

I have not even spoke about Jennifer Lawrence all this time given that her character is pivotal in the change of Pat’s acceptance and dealing with the problem. She is equally depressed as she has lost her husband and manages to have sex with random people to deal with it. She carries all the stereotypical nature for her character of being Goth, crazy and blunt but brings out a solidity in accepting it and owning it. She is completely comfortable with herself and when she sees Pat, she knows this is more than a ridiculous set up arranged by her brother-in-law Ronnie (John Ortiz) and her sister Veronica (Julia Stiles).

Bradley Cooper right from “Wedding Crashers” has tried to over come the pretty boy image and throughout that including “The Hangover”, he has not impressed this reviewer nothing extraordinary until “Limitless” where he transforms from a loafer to a thoroughly confident leader through a magic of a pill. Here he embraces this character whole heartedly and does not let the common nature of a complacent actor take over. There are nuances that are absorbed and presented. In between Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver along with Jennifer Lawrence, he is there and rises right from the first frame through last in giving layer after layer of depth to Patrizio Solitano.

“Silver Linings Playbook” written for the screen adapting the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick dabbles the idea that a dramatic dark emotional story can co-exist cinematically and realistically. I was completely drawn in as the relationships are exposed and emotions are unravelled in its purest form. The whole thing was flipped upside down once Pat gets into a fight in the highly expected New York Giants game to have a full cast confrontation back at his home. It explodes dramatically throwing me off guard and enters into the set up of expecting a nervous showdown of a bet to determine everything. It is a classic Hollywood rom-com ending that never has a place in a film like this. As I was wondering about Russell’s departure from a thoroughly dramatic film, slowly it began to work on me making me root for this couple, family and friends. As it becomes obvious and known, while as much as I can resist and was not happy about this handling, this family needs a hug like this, in their own way.

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