I recently got to go and see the movie Silver Linings Playbook, which has been getting tons of Academy Award buzz. The film has been nominated for a total of 8 Oscars which is impressive for any movie but especially exceptional for this one. When you take into consideration that the lead actor Bradley Cooper is far more known for doing whacky comedy roles things become very intriguing. Through Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro into the mix with some Chris Tucker and the notion of just how special this film is really begins to take shape.
The film is about a man Pat Solatano, who has lost everything– his wife, his house, his job and he recently returns back to his parents Philadelphia home after spending 8 months in a mental institution in Baltimore. After catching his Wife cheating he goes into a violent rage and beats the man she was sleeping with.
Now he is determined to get his life back on track but he still has the obsession with resuming his marriage with estranged wife. And some where along the way he meets Tiffany; the sister of one of his friends wife. “Tiffany” played by Jennifer Lawrence is a widow dealing with the loss of her husband and she is experiencing some issues of her own.
I will say this film has a few surprises in it; first starting with the casting choices– Bradley Cooper in such a vulnerable role as just an everyday guy who life deals a rough hand and he has an even tougher time dealing with it all. And then there is Chris Tucker playing the role of Danny another patient at the mental hospital.
Chris Tucker did a good job of playing the friend Danny who is constantly escaping from the mental hospital. He has some comedic humor that is genuine in the film without being too forced or over the top. Had his role been larger we could be talking about a possible Oscar nod for him from this picture.
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper gave the best performances I have seen from either of them EVER.
Cooper’s portrayal of Pat Solatano is superb. He is a quirky character who you automatically feel for and you find yourself rooting for him to be able to get himself together. He comes across as this odd man who at the same time is truly honest and that honesty creates some hilarious moments. Writer/director David O.Russell did an excellent job at translating the source material visually and creating an awesome balance of drama and comedy.
Pat’s mantra that he took from the hospital is to keep “if you keep positive outlook on things you will always have a chance at a silver lining.” He now tries to live by this no matter what. In the film the moment he caught his wife cheating on him it just so happens she has the song from their wedding playing as she is having sex with another man. The moment was so traumatic for Pat that he is taken back to that moment whenever he hears that song play or whenever a situation becomes too stressful for him — he hears the song in his head. I won’t give away what song it is though you’ll have to hit your local theater to find that out.
Jennifer Lawrence’s character Tiffany is just as emotionally unstable and messed up as Pat is. She went into an indulgent sex spree when her husband passed away to deal with the grief and it resulted in her losing her job after she slept with EVERYONE in her office. The “odd couple” meet at a dinner gathering and instantly hit it off…well sort of. You will have to see the movie to see how the awkward courtship plays out.
And last but certainly not least was Mr. Robert DeNiro who plays Pat Sr. He is a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan who is obsessive compulsive and has a major gambling problem. He tries to reconnect with his son but he clearly doesn’t quite know how to deal with him after he has this ordeal of being in a mental hospital for 8 months. He tries to get his son to watch Eagles football games every Sunday. He always has some sort of bet on with the local bookie and he believe Pat Jr gives him good luck when he watches the game with him.
I think this movie is nearly a perfect balance between humor and real life human drama as it tackles the sensitive issue of mental illness and how everyday people responds to extreme stress. This is a movie that everyone can relate to in some form or another. I for one once had a close friend from college who ended up spending some time in a mental hospital and of course I never 100% understood what he went through that landed him there or what his adjustment was when he returned back home. Watching this movie made me think about him and his struggles. It is something that he and I have only spoke about one time and I found myself wanted to talk to him deeper about it after seeing this film.
Another area this hits home in for many people– especially in a divorce happy United States– is with the failed marriage theme that runs parallel for the two main characters. 50% of all marriage now days end in divorce and the mental stress and heartbreak that ensues for the unsuspecting person MUST be PURE AGONY.
Even worse is when that person just can’t fathom the idea that they will never be together again. Bradley Cooper’s character has this written all over him throughout the movie as he still speaks of his marriage in the present tense even though he has had no contact with is wife in 8 months and she has a restraining order out against him.
All in all I like this film a lot and I think it is worthy of the Best Picture Oscar nomination that it has received.
MindBender Movie Meter Score:
Silver Linings Playbook………………..88%