Monday, December 3, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

This is an interesting and positive example of how formula, especially formula in a romantic comedy, can work. We all know that rom-coms, for the most part, are played out and predictable but if done right, those crowd pleasing moments can feel earned and not done cheaply. This is the case with the Silver Linings Playbook. If done badly, it could have been groan-worthy, but it earns the place it is trying to go to. Sure, it is David O. Russell at his most crowd-pleasing but obviously he can pull that off (see also The Fighter). Actually, the more I think about it, while it definitely has a good dose of comedy within, it probably leans more to the dramatic side anyway. It's mostly about broken people, some with real mental health issues, meeting and connecting.  This oversimplified description may sound awful, but in Russell's hands it works. It helps that he found some good, unlikely actors to carry it all out. I was probably most surprised by Bradley Cooper's performance. We've all seen movies with characters with mental illnesses that are just a checklist of symptoms and tics but Bradley Cooper here, in a surprise to me, actually makes this character a person with mental illness and not just one giant, overacted tic.  Also good here: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Tucker, and even Robert De Niro who seems to come alive in a way that he hasn't acted in years. Yeah, in the end the whole thing might be as manipulative as the next rom-com, but I don't think you'll feel cheated by it.


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