Tuesday, January 15, 2013
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012)
In this off-kilter romantic comedy Bradley Cooper stars as Pat, a diagnosed bipolar who spent eight months in a mental institution as part of a plea-bargain for attacking the man he discovered showering with his wife. Released into the home and care of parents Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and Dolores (Jacki Weaver) Pat remains convinced that, despite the evidence and a restraining order, he can win back wife Nikki, his house, and his old job. At a dinner party hosted by Ronnie (John Ortiz) and controlling wife Veronica (Julia Stiles), Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a widow after three years of marriage who has her own issues with depression and inappropriate behavior. Faced with this attractive, interested woman Pat nevertheless persists in following his reconciliation plan. Tiffany offers to courier a covert letter from Pat to Nikki in exchange for him partnering with her in a dance competition. He reluctantly agrees, and his unwitting courtship of Tiffany commences during the tentative rehearsal process. Writer/director David O. Russell has a penchant for messy family life, as evidenced in his adaptation of THE FIGHTER two years earlier. This script, which he based on Matthew Quick’s novel, is beautifully structured, yet the scenes are loose and unruly. The characters feel as if they might spill from the frame, and the dialogue flies like water from a burst pipe. This barely controlled chaos is intoxicating. De Niro, as a father striving to reconnect with his obsessed son through his own Eagles football obsession, gives his most sensitive performance in years. Weaver is wonderful as the low-key matriarch holding the family together with snack preparation and behind-the-scenes machinations, and Cooper shows surprising range as a man whose wheels turn so fast he laps himself. Standing out in a standout cast, however, is the luminescent Lawrence, whose face registers toughness and vulnerability, humor and deep hurt, often in the same scene. Russell’s scruffy bear hug of a movie undercuts the conventions of romantic comedy and eagerly embraces moments when the best-laid plans go gloriously astray.