Cert: 15 Runtime: 122 mins Director: David O.Russell Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jacki Weaver, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker and Robert De Niro
I opened up to you, and you judged me
David O.Russell is back after roaring with The Fighter, he returns with Silver Linings Playbook. Rather a different story to tell than boxing. Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) has lost everything – his house, his job, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother and father after spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain. Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife, despite the challenging circumstances of their separation. All Pat’s parents want is for him to get back on his feet – and to share their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives.About a week ago I saw all these mentions of possible award recognitions for both Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Lawrence’s inclusion didn’t surprise me because I had seen her memorable work in this year’s “Hunger Games” and her turn in “Winter’s Bone” a couple of years ago. Cooper’s puzzled me because he is famous for his effective but lightweight turns in comedies and a disappointing serious turn in an earlier 2012 film.
“Linings” doesn’t give much time to prepare for its intensity. From its earliest frames, Bradley Cooper makes a formidable entrance, giving us a preview of how troubled and disturbed his character is. In other films, we have seen the actor’s tricks and desperate call for the audience to admire how good they were. None of that is here. Bradley’s physical moves and powerful stares justify the character’s history. It’s not surprising the neighbourhood isn’t welcoming back. Even his own family who loves him dearly, hesitates in getting closer because the man is a walking time bomb.Bradley’s performance is more powerful and accessible than the one Phoenix gives in “The Master”. It’s direct, clear, with a pain we can relate to because it has clear origins, and it resonates with rawness. We can sympathize with his ordeal, even when we don’t understand why he fell so hard and resists people’s help. Just when we are getting “used” and involved in this man’s story, we meet another bruised soul, and there is fire to match in Tiffany’s (Lawrence)acting. She is, in fact, giving a quieter performance at first, but we can’t look away because there’s something daring about showing her flaws and still finding room in her life to get closer to someone potentially problematic for her.
Both leads have fantastic chemistry, showing how each is drawn to the other by curiosity, physical attraction, and compassion. After all, they surely can relate to her painful losses. Much of the movie’s pleasures originate in seeing how this partnership will turn out. We are not sure if they can handle each other, whether this is a good idea at all, and there is a sense of pessimism because we feel this couldn’t turn out well.The ads certainly promised humor in this film, and I kept thinking that such sadness and madness couldn’t have any room for any of that, without diluting the power of the conflict, but there are moments when we’ll have a laugh, which originates in the sincerity of the film’s screenplay and how real the characters feel.In all honesty, the film works because both Cooper and Lawrence are giving probably the best performances of the year. In fact, they’re so good, they lift a fine supporting cast, and De Niro, as Pat’s peculiar father manages to shine in a couple of scenes. There’s something very satisfying about the ending, which is hard to envision at first, but we keep hoping for, as the relationship evolves. Be prepared to see one of the best films of the year.