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Rated R for language, thematic elements, adult situations and sensuality
posted Nov 30, 2012 - 10:17:11am
In his followup to the best picture-nominated The Fighter, David O. Russell may have struck gold with Silver Linings Playbook. It’s much greater than the sum of its parts, and it’s got some incredible talent making up those parts.
In a way, Playbook, adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick, is reminiscent of Russell’s hit I Heart Huckabees in its thoughtful approach to the subject matter. It’s hardly a romanticized vision of the mental illness it explores; in fact it’s visceral, unpolished. Yet there’s something romantic about the two leads. Bradley Cooper plays Patrick, a high school substitute teacher who was recently released from a mental institution. The problem is, he might not be quite as fit to reenter society as his mother (Jackie Weaver) would want to believe.
The film follows his struggles as he deals with his delusions and obsession with his ex-wife, Nikki, which motivates his every action. While bipolar disorder might not be something that everyone in the audience can relate to, having that one person you can’t seem to move beyond is more universal. Luckily for Patrick, there’s a girl (Jennifer Lawrence) right up the road who has no problem matching his crazy with an equal amount of energy and tragedy.
Popcorn represents how fun a film is to watch—how funny it is, how exciting the special effects are, and how enjoyable the story is on repeated viewings. The perfect popcorn movie would be one that never got stale regardless of how many times you’ve seen it.
It’s not easy either for Lawrence and Cooper to steal the spotlight completely, especially with Weaver and Robert De Niro sharing so many scenes with them. De Niro and Weaver play Patrick’s parents, and they show a strained relationship perfect for this film, so dedicated to their roles that it becomes a touching story about family as well as about a tormented couple finding love.
That’s the beauty of this film. It’s the anti-Hollywood story. It’s the opposite of what Nicholas Sparks would want you to think love is. Love isn’t about beautiful people finding the most ridiculously perfect person in the world to be with forever; it's about finding someone who can deal with your craziness as long as you deal with theirs. Cooper mentions at one point that, by nature, “couples try to change each other,” but this film preaches exactly the opposite message. Patrick spends so much time being told that there’s something wrong with him, with people trying to change him. But Lawrence’s character accepts him, and he accepts her.
Russell keeps and indie feel to the film, which makes its message all the more palpable and the actors all the more believable. This is one of the best films of the year, and if you enjoy imperfectly beautiful, organic relationships, you should take the time to go and see it.
Stars & Popcorn grade: 4 1/2 stars, 4 1/2 popcorn
— Born and raised in the sunshine state, Patrick grew up loving movies. He’s currently attending the University of Central Florida and is a Cinema Studies major. Along with being the president of Stars and Popcorn, he’s a player in the independent comics scene.
Sponsored by Liebe Entertainment Group, Marketplace 8. Click here to see showtimes for Silver Linings Playbook
Visit Stars and Popcorn at www.starsandpopcorn.com
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