SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
(directed by David O. Russell, 2012)
**** (out of 5)
> I had a real love/hate relationship with this admittedly fine human drama. I enjoyed almost every minute of it, but I had… issues.
. It’s the very rare film that earns acting noms in all four categories, and as such, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is a real tour-de-force of fine acting. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Jackie Weaver and Robert Di Nero are all completely delightful to watch. After movies like THE HANGOVER, I always took… mis-took Bradley Cooper (America’s new “most sexy bachelor”), as a lightweight funnyman whose charm was his stock and trade. Glad to see how wrong I was. In every frame he occupies, we can see and feel the hurt and turmoil in his heart. It’s fine work. His counterpart, the effortlessly luminescent Jennifer Lawrence (THE HUNGER GAMES, WINTER’S BONE), fares even better, as a sexy, but fucked up woman suffering with grief over the loss of a husband. Hers is an absolutely star-making turn, that is the heart and soul of this deeply humanistic film. She’s got my attention! (And I wouldn’t be the least surprised if he gets Oscar’s attention at next week’s ceremony.) Robert De Niro is better than he’s been allowed to be in ages. Finally, De Niro has the great script he deserves, with excellent lines to speak and a clear, compelling character with a strong motivation. I’d be happy for him to take home that little golden man, though it seems unlikely.
. Director David O. Russell really pulls this off, in a film that would have been directed by James L. Brooks in an earlier decade. Though thanks to the fine acting, I really enjoyed the romance between these two “troubled” people, it also seemed convenient, pat, predictable. It is a failure of imagination to think that in order to find love, one screwed up person needs to find another screwed up person. (It’s like always pairing couples of the same ethnicity or as heterosexual couples: a cop-out because love comes in many more shades than vanilla!) And the events of the end are just too tidy by far. One reunion scene between Bradley and his neighborhood friend had dialogue I can barely imagine two (non-gay) men having. It seemed, simply a screenwriters PC dream. Do mean really say things to each other like “I’m so glad to see you” and “I’ve missed you terribly” and “I need someone to talk to”? What is this, dialogue from the hairdresser’s salon? My reasons for antipathy are personal, but almost irrelevant in a film this entertaining.
> Will it win the Big Prize this year? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Unlike ARGO or ZERO DARK THIRTY (and like BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD) this film has above all else, a big gooey heart. It is nearly impossible not to enjoy. Filmgoers love it. The Academy may well share this love affair with SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.
NOTE: They did not. Russell, Cooper and Di Nero were nominated, but only Jennifer Lawrence (memorably!) took home the little golden icon, tripping over hew gown on the way up the stairs!
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