I really uhmmed and ahhhed over going to see this film.  On the one hand, it starred Bradley Cooper, who I generally cannot stand (thank you, once again, Limitless, for robbing me two hours of my life).  On the other hand, Bradley Cooper, along with Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver, were all up for Oscars.  Decisions, decisions (and yes, I realise that deciding whether or not to spend an evening at the cinemas is the definition of first world problems).  Anyway, caught up in the beauty and romance that is Valentines day (read: everyone else was going out and I wanted to join in the fun), my friend and I decided to take each other on a date and see if Silver Linings Playbook was living up to its hype.

Plot:

Patrizio (Bradley Cooper) is released from a mental hospital, after spending eight months there.  Pat is bipolar, and ‘went over the edge’ when he caught his wife, Nikki, cheating on him with a fellow school teacher.  Pat goes to live with his parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro) and Pat soon learns that his father, who has turned to bookmaking to earn money, is becoming increasingly obsessive compulsive.

Despite their rocky marriage and her infidelity, Pat begins a campaign of sorts to win his wife back, by exercising and getting in shape, and reading all the books she’s teaching to her students.  Along the way he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a widow who recently lost her job after she slept with all of her co-workers.  Despite the fact that both have numerous mental problems and hang-ups, the two forge a friendship when they enter the local dance competition together.

The Pros:

  • The acting.  Jennifer Lawrence for me was the stand-out, a perfect mixture of both defiant confidence, and a real vulnerability. Although we don’t explore her past quite as much as Pat’s, we understand that she’s had a troubled life, and she turns to others for their support…in whatever form she can get.  Lawrence played Tiffany, who is absolutely bonkers at times, but completely loveable all the same, to perfection.  At no point did I feel that her character was cliched, or over-the-top, and considering the dramatic issues she deals with, Lawrence plays her with a sincere believably that many others would have failed to pull off
  • The storyline.  Although the first half is a fair bit slower, I really enjoyed the way the story played out.  While definitely a drama, that could easily lead to tears, it was also heartwarming and entertaining, with numerous laugh-out-loud moments. Plus, any film that ends with a dance number is bound to be wonderful
  • The depiction of mental illness.  Films about mental illness can so easily go terribly, terribly wrong, which is both awful to watch, while also unfortunately spreading the misconception that many people have with them.  Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of bipolar was accurate without being over-the-top; at times he was absolutely terrifying with his steadfast opinion of his and Nikki’s relationship, while in the next scene he’s seen as amicable, friendly and easy-going.  De Niro’s portrayal of a man with OCD was nuanced and at times almost unnoticeable, showcasing the quiet and often debilitating traits of the disorder, without making it comical or exaggerated, which is how it is often portrayed.  (Side note: does this annoy anyone else?  How come it’s considered ‘politically incorrect’ to make fun of most mental illnesses, but OCD is fair game?  Surely anyone who has experienced the disorder would understand it is just as awful as many other illnesses.  Anyway, moving on)
  • Pat.  As previously mentioned, at times crazy, at times loveable, altogether very realistic.  The bit about Pat that I liked the most was that the writers, along with Cooper, showed a side of him, and a side most of us would have inside of us, push comes to shove, that is downright horrible.  While at times Pat’s utter obsession with Nikki is frustrating, it also seems realistic of a man who feels wronged.  While most have not go neto the lengths that he does, I think all of us can say there has been times where we’ve wanted to explain ourselves, but not been given the opportunity, or had something taken away from us that has turned us bitter and obsessive about, even for a short time.  Or, perhaps that’s just me and I need to commit myself to a mental institution

The Cons:

  • I didn’t particularly like the look of the film.  I thought the camera movements at times seemed a little bit too basic, like moving the camera from Cooper’s face, to his hands, and back again without any shot changes in the process.  While I realise this was significant to show his wedding band on his finger, I also thought that it was a bit rough for the overall film.  Another aspect of the camera movement I didn’t particularly enjoy was the overuse of a dolly through the film.  This was exaggerated with zooms that didn’t seem altogether necessary, and came across a bit clunky.  But then again, I don’t particularly know all that much about this sort of thing, so perhaps this was the intention of the director!

Have you seen Silver Linings Playbook?  Did you like it?  Do you think it deserves to win the numerous amounts of Oscars it has been nominated for?  Please let me know!

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