Sunday, March 17, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

            Released last November was David O. Russell’s adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel Silver Linings Playbook.  This rom-com/drama stars the handsome Bradley Cooper as Pat Solitano, a young man mentally recovering from his divorce.  Anyone who has read Quick’s novel should see the film adaptation, and vice versa.  Audiences will find this film simply charming and inspiring. 

The film starts with his return home from a mental institution to live with his parents, Dolores (Jacki Weaver) and Pat Sr. (Robert de Niro)-a superstitious Eagles fan.  Between therapy sessions and coping with bipolar disorder, Pat meets a troubled widow, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) through a mutual friend.  She promises to help Pat communicate with his ex-wife under one condition-he dances with her for a competition.  With Pat Sr. pulling him back into the family in an almost sick way and Tiffany’s endeavor to make Pat a five-star dancer, this feel-good film is delightful, as we see Bradley Cooper struggle. 

Audiences will cheer for Pat as he gets through his “apart time.”  We cannot help but feel empathy for Pat.  Cooper offers a moving performance, proven so by his Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for this role.  His on-screen chemistry with Jennifer Lawrence is simply wonderful. 

The film is up for eight Academy Awards this year: Best Director (Russell), Best Motion Picture, Best Actor (Cooper), Best Actress (Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (de Niro), Best Supporting Actress (Weaver), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best  Editing. 

This is David Russell’s second nomination from the Academy for best director, the first being for his critically acclaimed film The Fighter.  His previous films have made quite the impressions at film festivals, especially Silver Linings Playbook. This film in particular hit home for him; he was inspired by his son’s reforming school to take up the project.  Russell’s son is bipolar and has OCD and attends the Devereaux Glenholme School in Connecticut, and the film’s theme of recovering and rediscovering one’s self became especially tangible.  "I was so familiar with the issues in the story that I knew how emotional and funny and original it could be,” said Russell. “Without this community I would never have made this film."   His motley crew of actors is so diverse, but they complement each other so naturally.

Bradley Cooper in the past has been known for being in comedies, such as The Wedding Crashers, The Hangover, and Failure to Launch.  Outside of Limitless and The Words we haven’t seen too much of a serious Cooper.  Silver Linings Playbook will definitely open up doors for his career, as we see Pat struggle and express a range of emotions wider than the Pacific Ocean.  His performance was outstanding, and even though there is a some tough competition for Best Actor he has a shot just as good as the rest of the nominees. 

Jennifer Lawrence shines in Silver Linings Playbook.  After seeing her previous performances in Hunger Games and House at the End of the Street, I wasn’t confident her career could ever flourish.  Solely being pretty and young can only get you so far in Hollywood.  After seeing her in Silver Linings Playbook, I have higher hopes for this Golden Globe winning actress.  This film just might be her game changer. 

The Australian actress Jacki Weaver is known as a symbol for the Australian New Wave that began in the 1970’s and was nominated by the American Film Institute for her performance in Caddy.  Us Americans know her best for her roles in Animal Kingdom and Silver Linings Playbook, both of which she has been nominated for the Academy Award of Best Supporting Actress. Though she is up against other Oscar veterans for her category, she might take home the award. 

Robert de Niro is a true icon of the silver screen, as he is a director, actor and producer.  De Niro has been in films varying from The Godfather: Part II and Taxi Driver to Meet the Parents and Raging Bull.  He has won two Academy Awards as an actor in the past and nominated for seven.  Winning for his roles in The Godfather : Part II as best supporting actor and Raging Bull as best actor, he has the best track record of the actors nominated in this film to take home an award.  He is up against Christoph Waltz is in his category, who won the Golden Globe for his appearance in Django Unchained for Best Supporting Actor. 

The Academy was especially generous this, year considering the four leads got nominated for their roles in this film.  This is the first time a film has gotten nominations in these four categories since 1981 in the film Reds.  Many films in the past have filled up three of these four categories, but for a movie to receive a nomination in each category is a rarity.  Only thirteen films in the past have done it, and none have been successful in conquering these categories across the board.  If Silver Linings Playbook can, it will be the first time in Oscar history.  There is a .0016 chance this will happen, and a .0004 chance they will win all four PLUS film of the year.

Among its pending nominations, Silver Linings Playbook is also the first "Big Five" (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Writing) nominee since Million Dollar Baby

As the film progressed, I fell more and more in love with every character.  The four Oscar nominated actors complimented each other so flawlessly.  De Niro, Cooper, Lawrence and Weaver kept the plot flowing naturally as their relationships on screen flourished.

Silver Linings Playbook really shows that you can find the solutions to ones problems in the most unlikely places and through people you wouldn’t expect.  Every cloud has a silver lining; you just have to find it. 

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