Directed by: David O. Russell
Written by: David O. Russell
Produced by: Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, Shea Whigham, John Ortiz, Julia Stiles
Synopsis: 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 (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert DeNiro) after spending eight months is 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 liningsappear in both of their lives.
I finally had a chance to catch The Silver Linings Playbook, the brand new David O. Russell film starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, with appearances by Chris Tucker. I felt compelled enough to pretty much interrupt my normal busy schedule to provide you guys with a rare but much needed review of the film.
By the time I saw this film I already learned that Bradley Cooper was receiving a lot of praise for his performance, so I approached this film with that in mind. That being said, I think he was very adequate in his role and I didn’t have any trouble with his performance, however, I didn’t think it was the level of performance to include him in any “best actor” conversation. If you’re not paying particular attention or if you’re not a die-hard Bradley Cooper follower than the minute nuances can go completely unnoticed. The film itself is great, as a whole, but I just don’t think that Cooper is the individual piece or the person to highlight. Now, I’m not saying that to sound overly negative with regard to his performance because he IS great performing as a character who is ALMOST normal, and with Cooper’s performance the devil is in the details, but the minute nuances are barely noticeable to those not looking for them.
Another thing that stood out to me was the return of Chris Tucker to film. I haven’t seen this guy in YEARS and if I’m not mistaken that was back in 2007 in Rush Hour 3. That said, What the Fuck was he doing here? His appearances in this film are sporadic at best and it seemed like a waste of talent. Tucker is CAPABLE of so much more as a comedian and I think that limiting him to this role is a catch-22. Some people don’t like him and will find him distracting, others will think his role was way too small and his talent wound up being wasted. I think they wasted him. The movie didn’t really need him and would have been fine without his character, if not better. He was funny but he just seemed to be a random half-thought out character.
The third I noticed was Jennifer Lawrence. Watch the video. No, seriously, WATCH THE VIDEO. After walking out of that theater I have developed a newfound deep appreciation and attraction for this woman. Now let me make something absolutely clear: JENNIFER LAWRENCE IS THE BEST THING ABOUT THIS MOVIE. She stole the show in this film and provided the most convincing performance out of everyone involved. That’s not to say that Robert DeNiro didn’t provide a great performance, he did, and I’ll get to that in a second but Jennifer Lawrence provided an even better performance. Her facial expressions, her mannerisms, her tone and infliction, the way she emoted all meshed together to make an incredibly rich and vibrant character. Now, it’s a little similar to some things we’ve seen from her in the past but you wont confuse her character here with Katniss Everdeen or Mystique or any other character by the time the credits roll, because it’s noticeable that she’s created something completely unique to what she’s done in the past and the results are a fantastic mess of a woman coping with mental instability. I really favored this performance over the others and the results have me looking forward to seeing more Jennifer Lawrence.
The next thing I noticed was Robert DeNiro. Now with him I was a bit apprehensive. I don’t want to say this but I will: I’m tired of Robert DeNiro. I’m not a fan of a lot of the projects he’s chosen lately. We all give him a pass and roll our eyes remembering that he’s had a fantastic career over the last 3 decades, but we can’t help but ask “what has he done lately that’s remarkable?” The Silver Linings Playbook, that’s what. That right there provides redemption for Mr. DeNiro, and he digs deep and gives a subtle but incredibly strong performance introducing us to someone struggling with addiction and an undiagnosed mental disorder. You wind up empathizing with the character as a result of his predicament complimented by DeNiro’s carefully trickled performance. I have few things to say other than this may be one of DeNiro’s finest performances in years.
Kudos to director David O. Russell for managing all of this, and brigning all of these pieces together to make a wonderful film. I thought the music, camera angles, and pacing were all managed quite well. He loves to make these smaller budget films with a team of great actors and just have them tell a wonderful story, and it worked for the Fighter, it works here, and I hope he’s able to maintain that momentum. I didn’t really feel like the movie dragged or moved too quickly throughout this film and considering the run time of 2+ hrs.
I didn’t have many negative criticisms for the film except for maybe the waste of Chris Tucker which ultimately made his character seem annoying at times. He seemed penciled in although its great to have his name associated with an Oscar nominated film for his comeback film after a 5 year hiatus but the film itself didn’t seem to benefit from Chris Tucker as much as Chris Tucker benefitted from this film, and that’s all I have to say about that. There are slow spots but they’re seemed appropriate and although the film has a slow start you realize that this isn’t a race and instead a cruise. I’d love to see this movie again and I think very highly of this film.
I give the movie a 7.5 out of 10