Director/Writer: David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker
You know those movies that you go in not knowing much about it, but you come out blown away? For me, that movie is Silver Linings Playbook, the latest from David O. Russell. Pat Solitano (Cooper) has been released from a psychiatry facility. His mother Dolores (Weaver) picks him and his friend Danny (Tucker) up and brings him back to their house. Pat comes back to realize his life is not the same as it was before the incident happened. He no longer has his job as a teacher and is determined to get his wife back. His traditional Philadelphia Eagles loving OCD dad Pat Sr. (DeNiro) is not even aware that he was released early.
Pat seems a little clueless about his mental state of being diagnosed as bipolar. He thinks he has it all together and it will be no time before he gets his wife back. I have no idea why he would want her back. She is a fellow teacher, and he goes about reading the books on her syllabus as a way to win her back. He is also running to get in shape again. He cannot seem to shake his short temper and anger management. Even the ending of "A Farewell to Arms" sets him over the edge.
During a dinner with his wife's sister (Julia Stiles), he meets Tiffany (Lawrence). She is a firecracker along the same lines as Pat. She has a history of baggage having previously been married and a reputation of being crazy and a slut. Their friendship blooms the more they interact and challenge each other. Pat helps Tiffany enter a dance competition in exchange for her helping him reach out to his wife.
I always thought Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence were good actors, but even I did not expect them to be so fantastic and sharp in this movie. Cooper has finally found a movie that can show off his skills as a serious actor. I think we all came to acknowledge that he was just the good looking sexy guy that can either play the "bro" type character in The Hangover or Wedding Crashers or star in action movies like The A-Team or Limitless. Pat Solitano is an adventurous departure for him. Cooper knows how to play him with truth and conviction without playing just bipolar stereotypes. Along with Cooper, you can expect Jennifer Lawrence to anticipate another early morning call on Oscar nomination day. At the ripe age of 22 she can hold her own against likes of Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver. She shows off the multitude of dimensions to Tiffany to prove that she is more than the flawed crazy slut she is scapegoated to be. She should have no troubles proving that she is capable of playing more characters than Katniss Everdeen and Mystique.
Silver Linings Playbook is the perfect example of a movie that seems pretty simple and full of standard rom-com fair on the outside, but in the inside it packs a wallop of a punch and takes you by surprise. The relationship between Pat and Pat Sr. is just as important to the story as the one between Pat and Tiffany. David O. Russell directed and wrote the movie based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick. He has cast a superb ensemble of actors that play outside their comfort zones, but are perfect at playing these characters. Even though I do not know anyone in my life quite like any of them, they were all believable and relatable. I always enjoy watching a movie that is a great character study, especially when you have two actors at the top of their game. I would expect multiple Oscar nominations especially in the acting categories. It will definitely have a spot on my Top 10 of 2012 list.
RATING: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)