Thursday, October 25, 2012


David O. Russell
I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at "Silver Linings Playbook" at the Chicago International Film Festival starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DiNero, Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker.  Not only did this high profile and talented cast pique my interest, but the director and writer of the screenplay, David O. Russell from "The Fighter," was a pull as well.  "Silver Linings Playbook" was based on the novel by Matthew Quick.  In the film, Cooper played a recently released mental patient with a propensity for violence who tried to get his life back in order with a little help from a friend, Jennifer Lawrence, who had "issues" of her own.

  The story line and character development of everyone in "Silver Linings Playbook" was complex.  Without giving too much away, this film dealt with Pat Solitano, an adult with Bipolar Disorder.  As Pat (Cooper) was released against medical advice from the mental institution in Baltimore after serving time for battery, he returned home to live with his parents, as a part of a court agreement.  Pat tried to focus on getting better with the sole purpose of getting his wife back.  As Pat went to therapy, and interacted with friends and family, we gained insight into Pat's life and those who surrounded him along with a new acquaintance, Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence.  We also saw that no one is really "normal."  It's how far to the left or right of normal one can go before it interfered with living.  That's what happened to Pat.  We watched as his outbursts and difficulty with dealing with life in appropriate ways interfered with not just Pat's life, but his family's as well.  His mental illness tore apart and continued to tear apart the family.  But it wasn't all dark and depressing.  This movie took a serious disorder, showed it in its true light, but also found the humor within the reality of it.  Anyone who has dealt with a mental disability could relate to the various situations found in the film.  Finding that silver lining in any situation is how we can make things seem just a little bit better.  That's what Pat tried to do throughout the movie.

This film was carefully crafted and written with the utmost of care to develop meaningful and realistic characters full of love, depth, and humor.  Cooper's astute ability to portray an impulsive and inappropriate man with Bipolar Disorder who struggled with life was mind-boggling.  His frenetic tempo was contagious as I found my own breathing irregular and shallow as I watched him interact.  Lawrence was a great counterpart to Cooper, although, initially I thought she was too young.  She proved me wrong.  Her character also had issues which I encourage you to see for yourself, but she was the realistic balance that Cooper's character needed.  DeNiro, wrought with his issues as well, struggled with trying to help his son yet protect his family...a tough line to walk when you're dealing with an adult son.  And Weaver was  Every's just want everyone to be happy.  She loved her family and would do anything for her kids and no matter what the kids' ages, they will always be her kids.  Family.  It's our most treasured gift, but what do we do when that gift explodes?

"Silver Linings Playbook" was a wonderful story which addressed a serious topic.  Through the use of humor, we saw how one family dealt with the serious issue of Bipolar Disorder.  The numerous and overlapping side stories augmented the main story perfectly.  Sweet, funny, accurate, and deep are just a few words that come to mind when describing this film.  Cooper's performance took him to a place I hadn't seen him before.  DeNiro, Weaver, and Lawrence couldn't have been cast any better.  How wonderful to see a story unfold before your eyes which can take an close look at an uncomfortable issue and find a silver lining.


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