Silver Linings Playbook
(The Film’s Lead Character Bipolar)
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Review by Lisa Schwartzbaum
EW’s GRADE A
Details Released Date: Nov 21, 2012; Rated: R; Length: 122 Minutes; Genre: Comedy; With: Bradley Cooper (Pat), Robert De Niro (Pat Sr.), Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany) and Jacki Weaver (Dolores-mom to Pat)
Family nuttiness, football madness, romantic obsession, and certifiable mental illness coexist happily in Silver Linings Playbook — a crazy beaut of a comedy that brims with generosity and manages to circumvent predictability at every turn. Our damaged, bipolar hero, Pat Solatano Jr. (Bradley Cooper), first makes his entrance in a psych ward. He’s been committed because he beat the crap out of a guy, though there were mitigating circumstances: The guy was sleeping with Pat’s wife. Who has since dumped Pat. Which has sent Pat on a mission to win her back. In any event, when the precariously upbeat fellow is sprung from the bin by his doting mother (wonderful Jacki Weaver from Animal Kingdom), he returns to the bosom of a Philly family that thrums with crazy as a way of life, much of it generated by Pat’s father (Robert De Niro). Fixated on the family’s favorite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles, and doing haphazard business as a bookie, the old man employs an arsenal of superstitions and obsessive-compulsive behaviors to ”ensure” his team wins. It’s been ages since De Niro has had a role this juicy, or has looked so alive and fully engaged — the difference, I suppose, between taking yet another role that’s a Fockers-like parody of aggressive De Niro-fication and one that’s a man in full, OCD and all, frustrated by the ways a loving father just can’t help his own son.
Cooper, meanwhile, has been having a helluva career rise. But the sense of personality wobble he brings to his portrayal of Pat is something new in his repertory, and it’s a revelation. There’s a look the actor gets in those nice blue eyes, something between a stare, a dare, and a cringe, that distills a whole mess of conflicting impulses and emotions into one appealing expression of vulnerability. And Cooper meets a singular partner in crime (and chemistry) in the fabulous Jennifer Lawrence(Remember “Hunger Games”), the girl on fire, who is incandescent as Tiffany, a local young woman with issues of her own.
Somehow, in the story’s loose, loopy trajectory, Tiffany and Pat learn to dance together — I mean really dance, so they can enter a ballroom competition, with all that signifies for emotional connection. Yet in scenes of Pat and Tiffany rehearsing, doing flailing aerobic sprints down suburban streets, and squabbling with the special intensity of two people with unreliable filters, nothing about this crazy-boy-meets-wacky-girl romance is what a moviegoer is cued to expect. For such freshness, writer-director David O. Russell can take the bow. Silver Linings Playbook is based on a best-selling 2008 novel by Matthew Quick. Still, Russell’s own flair for playing with characters who flirt with disaster is what gives the movie its peculiar verve and unique sense of controlled chaos. His last outing, The Fighter, was a Big Broody Brotherly movie. But it’s the filmmaker’s empathy for exotically and often hilariously unhinged characters — something he’s displayed in odd jobs including Spanking the Monkey, Flirting With Disaster, and Three Kings — that is his signature contribution to Americano-auteurist storytelling. Silver Linings scoops up a whole lot of ancillary nut-jobs in the course of the mayhem, among them Rush Hour’s Chris Tucker as Pat’s buddy from the psych ward, Anupam Kher as Pat’s shrink, and John Ortiz as a stressed-out neighborhood pal married to Tiffany’s controlling sister (Julia Stiles). Russell welcomes them all into the rumble with open arms. The movie is lit with a love that catches the viewer by surprise. We’re ready for the comedy of craziness, but the depth of compassion is the movie’s silver lining.
“I hate my illness. I want to control it.” Pat, Jr. (Bradley Cooper)
“The only way to beat my crazy was by doing something even crazier. Thank you. I love you. I knew it from the moment I saw you. I’m sorry it took me so long to catch up.” Pat, Jr, (Bradley Cooper)
“Let me tell you, I know you don’t want to listen to your father, I didn’t listen to mine, and I am telling you you gotta pay attention this time. When life reaches out with a woman like this it’s a sin if you don’t reach back, I’m telling you its a sin if you don’t reach back! It’ll haunt you the rest of your days like a curse. You’re facing a big challenge in your life right now at this very moment, right here. That girl loves you she really really loves you. I don’t know if Nicky ever did, but she sure as shit doesn’t right now. So don’t fuck this up.” Pat, Sr. (Robert DeNiro)
“There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you’re high it’s tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones. Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people. Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria pervade one’s marrow. But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast, and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity. Memory goes. Humor and absorption on friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern. Everything previously moving with the grain is now against– you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind. You never knew those caves were there. It will never end, for madness carves its own reality.”― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“Manic-depression distorts moods and thoughts, incites dreadful behaviors, destroys the basis of rational thought, and too often erodes the desire and will to live. It is an illness that is biological in its origins, yet one that feels psychological in the experience of it, an illness that is unique in conferring advantage and pleasure, yet one that brings in its wake almost unendurable suffering and, not infrequently, suicide.”― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
“I know the empathy borne of despair; I know the fluidity of thought, the expansive, even beautiful, mind that hypomania brings, and I know this is quicksilver and precious and often it’s poison. There has always existed a sort of psychic butcher who works the scales of transcendence, who weighs out the bloody cost of true art.”― David Lovelace, Scattershot: My Bipolar Family
“When my mind plays tricks on me I can deal. But when my mind plays tricks on my mind I can not tell what’s real”― Stanley Victor Paskavich