Review: Silver Linings Playbook
BY MICHAEL SMITH World Scene Writer
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
12/25/12 at 4:40 AM
This is how smart Jennifer Lawrence is at her job: She realizes that the troubled young woman she plays in "Silver Linings Playbook" is a great role. It's a supporting role in the novel upon which the movie is based.
Her plan? To so fiercely bring this character to life that the filmmaker is forced to make the part larger and put her front and center. Thankfully, writer-director David O. Russell is smart enough to know that more Lawrence makes any movie better.
This is how talented Lawrence is: The move may result in her winning an Academy Award for best actress in a leading role, and the movie is not even about her character. Lawrence is not, by my estimation, in the first 25 minutes of "Silver Linings Playbook."
But the 22-year-old, whose gritty determination gained an Oscar nomination for "Winter's Bone," and who earlier this year became a box-office power as the lead in "The Hunger Games," shows that her talent knows no bounds.
The proof of her powers? In "Silver Linings Playbook," she has also mastered subtle comedy, moments of emotional instability and dance moves. She is a triple-threat.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert
De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker
2 hours, 2 minutes
R (language and some sexual content/
(on a scale of zero to four stars)
Let's talk about Bradley Cooper, too. The star of "The Hangover" comedies shows that he has more acting chops than we've given him credit for previously.
Such skills are necessary if you're the star of a mental-illness comedy and you're not going to offend audiences.
Cooper plays Pat Solitano, a rabid Philadelphia Eagles fan like the rest of his close-knit family of colorful characters. If you've seen Russell's 2011 award-winner "The Fighter," you would know that Pat's family could be the next-door neighbors of the riotous family to which Mark Wahlberg's character belongs in that movie.
Pat's dad (Robert De Niro back in fine comedic form) is kooky-level superstitious about Eagles football as well as his new bookmaking operation. There is serious comedy to be mined out of the idea that fan is short for fanatic, and that people's obsessions with sports are not necessarily healthy from a mental health point of view.
From this standpoint, Pat has serious issues.
Pat is bipolar with mood swings created by stress. Eight months previously, before he was diagnosed, Pat beat a man so severely after finding him with his wife that he earned a lengthy stay at a mental-health facility instead of a prison.
Cooper plays Pat in a divisive manner that finds this damaged soul talking too fast, saying inappropriate things constantly (which are always hilarious) and prepared to explode.
Especially if - in public or private - he hears the strains of Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour," which triggers bad memories and causes bad Pat to emerge.
He alternates between being a man of peace ("I'm remaking myself," he says excitedly to people who are not reassured by this statement) and being a rage machine (there's that song again). The audience can only wonder if his condition will improve or worsen once he meets Lawrence's character, Tiffany, who has her own emotional issues dealing with the death of her husband.
There are so many laughs in the movie (Pat on his first meeting Tiffany: "You look nice tonight. How did your husband die?") that you might not expect. Russell makes a first-class comedy out of a mental illness movie, deftly adapting Matthew Quick's excellent novel.
How? He never takes these people's issues as anything less than totally serious. "Silver Linings Playbook" is a comedy that deals more honestly with mental illness than most dramas.
"Silver Linings Playbook" does so many things right that I give it some slack. I can hardly think of a recent movie that deviated more from its source material. So many of the supporting characters kind of pop in and out, as opposed to being fleshed-out characterizations. The final act's use of a wager by Pat's dad turns into a goofy move with no basis in reality.
But here's how good Lawrence and Cooper are together: Despite the presence of these young actors ensuring that a Hollywood ending is inevitable, when the performances are this good, you don't let a few flaws drive you crazy.
Original Print Headline: 'Silver Linings Playbook' is seriously funny
Michael Smith 918-581-8479
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper star in "Silver Linings Playbook." Courtesy