johnlink ranks SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012)

Between SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and LES MIS, I am finally catching up on the 2013 Oscars. Better late than never I guess. This might be the longest it has taken me to see a Jennifer Lawrence movie, though. Love her.

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I watched SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012) on 6.4.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

This is a movie which came with a lot of hype. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper were both crashing the A-List scene in full force. David O. Russell was reigniting his career after getting some kudos for THE FIGHTER. This was a sure fire Oscar nomination machine, and everyone seemed to love it. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK avoided some of the fatigue that would later come about when Lawrence, Cooper, and Russell collaborated on AMERICAN HUSTLE.

AMERICAN HUSTLE is a good and technically sound movie with solid acting and a script which isn’t as clever as it thinks it is. The same could be said of SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, though SLB gets away with much more because it has a lot of heart. Russell basically wrote a trumped up romantic-comedy. The first hour is good, but we are trying to figure out how these people, Pat (Cooper) and Tiffany (Lawrence), ever managed to exist in society in the first place. We catch them in the midst of emotional and psychological dissonance. Yet, by the end of the film, we see the people they must have been before… only improved.

The performances are stellar. While some could ponder the accuracy of the mental health issues littered throughout the film in almost every character, the actors all do strong work. Lawrence is vulnerable and pitiable. We see through her lies and why she does what she does. Her acting makes the ‘surprise twist’ of the script a non-surprise (and that is a good thing). Cooper gives more here than in any of his other roles. He is believably emotional. Playing Pat’s father is Robert De Niro, who gives his strongest and most engaged performance in years. Through him we see where Pat’s neurosis were born.

THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

 

The script is a little inconsistent. In the interest of tightness Russell has seemingly created only a single cop (Dash Mihok) in the entire suburb of Philadelphia, and he seems to work every single possible shift. Likewise, Pat’s psychiatrist (Anupam Kher) ends up being a major player at a football game and then shows up with Pat at the house after, only to never really say anything or be heard from again. Yet, these are gaps in logic which would be ignored in a less sophisticated romantic comedy. The fact of the matter is that Russell’s scripts, imperfect as they may be, are undoubtedly a playground for good actors to work. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK does suffer a bit from actors needing a slightly tighter script, but it is also that script which allows them to be so solid. This is a funny movie, which is even more impressive by the fact that it doesn’t have any forced humor or institutional comedy; it is almost all character driven. It is also a movie which allows the ‘success’ of its characters to be obtainable. This isn’t some pipe dream movie. It is really about people who are struggling trying to find their place in the world and trying to achieve some modest goals.

Lawrence’s Tiffany is very interesting as a character. We know she lies to get what she wants. We know she works behind the scenes, even getting Pat’s jogging wrote from his mother (Jacki Weaver). How much of her story do we believe? It doesn’t seem she is lying about the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death. But she may not be telling the truth in regards to how she was fired. While she certainly is no angel, the story she tells in the diner just does not ring true. More interestingly, she seems to be what Pat’s psychiatrist suggests: a girl using sex as a means to gain a friend. When Pat turns her down and is insistent that he is married, she uses that against him. She doesn’t again use sex as anything other than something to put distance between them. She knows the key to his friendship is through his estranged wife. That she falls in love with him is an unexpected thing, and one she finds herself in too deep a hole to lie her way back out of. But that is what Pat needed to straighten him out. So, again, Russell’s script is not without nuance or depth. I just wish it didn’t always take the easy way out with its character choices.

But look, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is a really good movie. Line it up next to any recent romantic comedies and it stands head and shoulders above them. Perhaps it is not an all time great character drama, but very little is. This is a highly watchable movie with likable people trying real hard to be good versions of themselves. And we want them to be successful.

SCORES

FILM: 6; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 9; WRITING: 6

6+8+9+6+0=29

FINAL SCORE: 7.25 out of 10

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~ by johnlink00 on June 5, 2014.

6 Responses to “johnlink ranks SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012)”

  1. I think the best thing about this movie is that it uses the romantic comedy genre trappings and fills it with something a lot more messy than what you would normally expect from it — both in the fact that it’s not entirely “funny ha ha” and the fact that the mental illnesses aren’t exactly romanticized in standard Hollywood fashion. That whole non-date scene, where they both go from conversation at “dinner” and then proceed to the movie theatre, is definitely my favorite part and is the movie in a nutshell. Most movies of that sort would have them “complete” each other and be a sort of cure for each other’s problems. Russell basically says that people with mental illness (like himself, I hear) can have the same thing as other couples, even if it doesn’t at first seem on equal footing. It’s not about curing one another of each other’s problems but loving one another in spite of them. Which is just magic. At least to me. LOL

    • I’m with you there. If compared to other rom-coms, it stands out. When compared to the great character driven stories which feature romance (I’m thinking stuff like Good Will Hunting) it isn’t quite there for me.
      Ultimately, they do cure each other’s problems in the sense that they both become better adjusted. They just don’t realize it at first. I think that they have to for the movie to not become cynical and fatalist, but Russell does a good job delaying the payoff.
      Thanks for reading. Good to hear from you!

  2. Good review John. Loved this movie. And no, not because it was filmed right outside of my house! Okay, maybe that’s one of the reasons, but not the main one!

  3. In regards to the dinner at the diner scene, I liked how all the “normal” people were dressed in Haloween costumes, but the two “crazy” ones were dressed as normal regular people.

    The same cop showing up all the time at all hours of the night drove me nuts. Do you think he was real or just in Pat’s head? Perhaps he is just how Pat sees all cops in his mind? Maybe he was the cop who arrested him after Pat beat up his wife’s lover and that representation is part of his delusions? It could be his calming mechanism like how the Stevie Wonder song works to set him off. Or, you could just be right and it’s a shortcut.

    • Great observation regarding the diner scene.
      As for the cop theory, I think the fact that the cop doesn’t show up at the Eagles game might break that one down, but it’s a thought anyway!

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