Nov 24, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook

The Fighter for laughs. Somehow, David O. Russell takes the tritest romantic comedy tropes and with a game cast, makes a rousing movie that is as enjoyable as it is farfecthed. He likes to mill around regular folks, and make them larger than life, in this case, average middle class people from Philadelphia. The Solitanos are a dysfunctional family, trying to cope with their son and major fuck up, Pat, a manic bipolar man, (Bradley Cooper), recently sprung by his mother from a mental institution. Pat wants to rekindle the love with his wife, who has a restraining order against him. While in the hospital, he has drank the kool-aid of unbridled positivity (never a good thing) and now can´t bear anything short of happy and miraculous happening, even in books. He is committed to getting his wife back, though everybody knows no such thing is going to happen. This is an edgy comedy about people with real problems and for the most part Russell sustains a bristly, realistic tone, investing equally in Pat´s manic suffering as in the painful comedy that results from it. Some of it is a little strained, but there is real heartbreak, and fantastic performances from Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver as the exhausted and overwhelmed parents of this chaotic grown man. They both seem to have been living with this curse for decades.
If there is someone who carries the movie, however, it is Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany, a fellow mentally unstable comrade in arms. She is extraordinary as a fierce, uncontrollable woman who is mourning the death of her husband and hitches on to Pat for emotional sparring and support. Even as the plot cliches start piling up, Russell sustains a taut, prickly tightrope between the borderline tragic and the funny. By the time the third act arrives, however, he seems to say "fuck reality" and goes for obvious cliche with all his might. To his credit, it feels less ridiculous than liberating, as if he were overjoyed to embrace everything that is unreal about Hollywood´s happy endings. The more you think about this movie, the more strained the plot reveals itself to be, and in less shrewd hands it could have been a painful groaner. But Russell brings out fierce, beautiful performances from everybody, even Cooper, who gives it his all. Russell keeps us rooting for the bunch of losers he has so much sympathy for. And this is why the movie works somehow.

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