Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Oscar's Silver Lining: Silver Linings Playbook

Oscar is all over Silver Linings Playbook. Best Picture! A nominee in all four acting categories: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Jacki Weaver, and Robert De Niro. What's this? Screenplay, too!

Silver Lining's Playbook is the 2012 feel-good romantic comedy about two people who don't feel good. Pat (Cooper) is bipolar and has anger-management problems. Tiffany (Lawrence) is depressed. Both have been medicated; Pat's just out of an institution. Can Pat cope? Can he find the silver linings in life? Pat strikes up a reluctant partnership with Tiffany, but he still obsesses about getting back together with his wife whose infidelity triggered the big blow-up that sent him to the loony bin. As Pat practices dance routines with Tiffany for a competition, as the dance competition gets tied up in his father's addiction to gambling, Pat learns that everybody's wacky, and everybody watching can feel relieved that having an extreme mood disorder is okay, especially when everything comes out just right for Pat, Tiffany, Pat's dad (De Niro), and his mom (Weaver), and there's nothing very disturbing in the whole predictable thing. Towards the end, not knowing that the film is directed by David O. Russell (The Fighter), I thought, "Hey, this reminds me of The Fighter." Still, the development of the rapport between Pat and Tiffany is well done, and there is much to laugh at.

As for the acting, it's good, not great. Cooper gets to speak rapidly, and he achieves a couple of touching moments. Weaver and De Niro each get a touching moment, the latter only slightly controlling the overacting that is the signature of his elderly career. Finally, Lawrence is convincingly manic, peppy, endearingly odd, and full of likable spunk; she gets her touching moments too.

Everything comes out just right for Pat and those around him, and that makes everything just right for Oscar and most viewers in the market for a romantic comedy about mental illness that isn't as provocative as Rachel Getting Married (2008) or I've Loved You So Long (2008).

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