Silver Lining Play Book

Director: David O. Russel

Lead Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradly Cooper, Robert Deniro

Plot Synopsis
A high school history teacher takes a few steps backwards in his life when he finds his wife having an affair with another man. He attacks the man violently and is sent to mental hospital for eight months as part of a plea bargain.

We meet him on the day he gets out, and moves back home with his parents in Philadelphia. There he is confronted with other people's sordid lives while he tries to resume his own. While at dinner with some friends, he meets Tiffany, the vivacious sister of a friend who is ALSO back living with her parents. Bradley's character Pat, and Jennifer Lawrence's Tiffany hit it off well when they realize they are both diagnosed as bipolar. One favorite scene of mine is when they start comparing notes on the medications they were on!

Their odd relationship grows from there, as Pat tries to fully heal so he can reunite with his estranged wife . . . or so he thinks. Just like in life, one never knows exactly where we are going to end up!

Who Would Like it and Why

The strength in this movie for me was Tiffany's pursuit of Pat. She realizes that she loves him early on, not a spoiler alert, because it would take a true robot not to notice that. Her pursuit of him goes straight back to Kindergarten tactics, as she literally chases after him while he's running and pretends like she can't stand him. At one point she mocks him in public and accuses him of stalking her. Classic tactics! She might as well wear a sign around her neck professing her love for him!

By the time this review is being written and seen, we are deep into the awards season, as it is February. Jennifer Lawrence has accepted at least two statues and had one wardrobe malfunction. In this case, the people who give the awards are right. Hers was one of if not the best performance of the year. Spellbinding! Her voice and posture and demeanor all changed for this role and she was playing a character. A favorite scene of mine is when she confronts Pat and his bizarre family, and turns their penchant for betting on everything into a strange sort of healing mechanism for everyone.

Another guy who deserves an award is David Russel - not for getting in a fight with George Clooney and for calling him out on his f**d up acting during production of Three Kings, but for his superior production and direction capabilities on this skein. This is truly one of the best movies of the year!

In my research, I learned that O Russel also helmed "The Fighter" with Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. By seeing that I can definitely say that East coast family dysfunction is one of his strong points. I hope he didn't flip out during this movie and ruin what looked like a good time on set!

It has to be said here that Bipolar Disorder and its many forms and variations is still a taboo topic in our society. Many like to believe that it's all a figment of our imagination and that some people just don't want to go to work. And, others are misdiagnosed as "bipolar" when really they aren't dealing with things as adults. This movie confronts it with respect though, and manages to still find the humor.  

Alert movie fans might see that O Russel, who has been documented several times over the years losing his cool while on the set of his movies (curious readers can youtube "Lili Taylor versus David O Russel I Love Huckabees"). . . might also be bipolar.

Nonetheless, the cast is amazing. Jackie Weaver is absolutely indelible as Pat's Mom. Her charm in pulling her son out early from the hosptial and her perpetually trying to smooth everything over with crab snacks is amazing!

I will not give Jennifer Lawrence any more accolades here, as the entire world is in her palms after this movie came out and combined with the box office dominance of The Hunger Games. But, suffice it to say, even with this gifted cast, the stole the show!

Who Might not Like it and Why
Listen, the world wants to worship Bradley Cooper as one of the greatest leading men of all time. While he was good in this movie and played the role well, he didn't stand out! I believed that he had problems, this was not a vanity piece, but he was not amazing.

Nor was (warning sacriledge coming) Deniro. That's right, I said it. Deniro was good, but not great. He didn't look focused. He looked hurried. He was using all the classic Deniroisms and not doing anything else interesting. Greatest actor of all time? Not sure any more after seeing Day Lewis' transformation as Lincon.
Highlights/Top Scenes
Tiffany follows after Pat every day that he runs and tries to talk to him while he is running. It is cute. Also, the Eagles' fandom is endearing, especially when you take into consideration the last time they made it into the Superbowl, which was . . .  .

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