After the well received but somewhat disappointing The Fighter, David O’Russell (also known for I heart Huckabees and Three Kings) directs a marvellous, emotional drama/comedy which is probably his best work to date. Silver Linings Playbook has a cast that includes Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Tucker.
Bradley Cooper plays a man released from a mental intuition and finding it hard to adjust to normal life, especially because he is no longer allowed to see his wife (she has taken out a restraining order against him), his parents do not understand him and he finds himself falling in love with his wife’s sister, Jennifer Lawrence, who he agrees to enter into a dance competition with.
The film is told mostly from Bradley Cooper’s character’s point of view and gives the viewer a strong insight into the mind of someone who has been rejected by society. Throughout the film he is ridiculed by most of the people he meets and harassed by a policeman who clearly wants him to go back to the mental asylum. O’Russell makes us feel a sense of loneliness and isolation that someone in this position would feel, then, when the romance starts, he replaces this with a sense of purpose as Cooper’s character finds something that matters to him. As he starts to build a relationship, he begins to see a purpose to his life and starts to fix his problems such as his relationships with his family and his friends. This is perhaps the strongest aspect of the film – the story of someone who wants to become a better person and improve their life, a theme which is sorely missing in many movies today.
Yet despite the serious moral message, the film never gots too serious and had a good sense of humour. The music and dance scenes are entertaining, De Niro is funny as the eccentric father who seems to be even crazier than his son, and some of the conversations between Cooper and Lawrence are humorously memorable, particularly one where she describes how she had sex with all her co-workers.
The film is likely be an Oscar contender next year, and rightly so. The cast gives excellent performances, the script has a superb balance of comedy and drama and O’Russell strengthens his position as one of the top directors in Hollywood with his superb, unique direction. De Niro delivers a powerful performance, quite a surprise given his recent tendancy to sleepwalk through his roles. Bradley Cooper, who has had an up and down career since his breakout performance in The Hangover, delivers what is likely the strongest performance of his career so far and will possibly even become his defining role, whilst Jennifer Lawrence makes another strong step to becoming one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Jacki Weaver, known for her Oscar nominated performance in Animal Kingdom, also is on top form as De Niro’s wife.
Silver Linings Playbook is a powerful, emotional and uplifting drama that is also very funny and will, as I previously mentioned, probably be an Oscar contender next year, which it more than deserves.