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Old 12-08-2012, 12:48 PM   #1
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Default The Silver Linings Playbook - Review Thread

The Silver Linings Playbook(11/25/2012)

David O. Russell was an amazingly exciting talent when he first emerged in the late 90s with films like Flirting With Disaster and Three Kings. He was a sort of wunderkind bad boy who was able to inject his films with a lot of energy and spunk. However, that bad boy image caught up with him eventually and it was beginning to look like he’d burned down so many bridges that it would be hard for him to get anymore work. Fortunately he made a big comeback with 2010s The Fighter, a film which was made without scandal, scored big at the box office, was reviewed solidly, and which also garnered seven Oscar nominations. I was really happy to see Russell back on top of the filmmaking world, but my joy was undercut by my own middling reaction to The Fighter itself. To me, The Fighter was Russell Lite. It was a film which, under its mildly gritty exterior, was way too close to being a standard formulaic Disney sports movie for comfort. I was more than a little worried that Russell would go further into blandness with his most recent movie, The Silver Linings Playbook, but I’m happy to report that film is not only much better than The Fighter but also much one of the best films of the year.

Bradley Cooper (of all people) stars as Pat Solitano, a man who suffered a breakdown a few years prior to the start of the film and who is now returning home after a stay at a mental care facility. The catalyst for his breakdown was the discovery that his wife had been unfaithful to him and it was later discovered that it was largely the result of an underlying bi-polar condition that he’d been suffering from all his life without knowing it. His wife now wants nothing to do with him after he physically attacked the man his wife had been cheating with, and has ordered a restraining order against him. For now he’d moved back in with his parents (played by Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver), and he plans to regain his composure through a lot of positive thinking. However, he remains fixated on his estranged spouse to the point that when he meets an acquaintance of hers named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), all he can think to do is use her in order to relay a letter to his wife. Tiffany is also suffering from emotional distress, which is brought on by the death of her husband, and knows that Pat’s obsession with his wife is hopeless but she connects with him anyway because she knows that together they might be able to overcome their demons.

Bradley Cooper is an actor that I’ve mostly hated in almost every other movie I’ve seen him in. I’ve always gotten a douche frat-boy vibe from him, especially in the The Hangover series where he comes off like some sort of Dane Cook impersonator. But like he did with Mark Whalberg before him, David O. Russell manages to skew Cooper’s more annoying tendencies and somehow manages to turn him into a very likable personality here. This is in part because Cooper’s character is in a genuinely sympathetic place and is generally upbeat and well meaning even when he does things that are kind of chaotic. The character’s condition makes him generally hyper (there’s a lot of manic in the film and very little depressiveness) and leaves him without any filter when he speaks to people. Anyone who’s seen the Youtube videos of David O. Russell on the set of I Heart Huckabees can probably understand how the director could relate to such a character and it’s this ability to make the audience relate to them as well which allows the film to laugh along at some of Pat’s manic behavior.

Jennifer Lawrence also creates an interesting character which seems like a real departure from the dower characters that she played in films like Winter’s Bone and The Hunger Games. Admittedly the character could be pegged as a “Manic Pixie Dream Girl,” but that trope feels a lot more natural here firstly because it’s in more of a blue-collar environment than most films with that character type and secondly because the “manic” part is a literal symptom of a mental condition which the male lead also displays. Were this a film which made Bi-polar disorder the defining characteristic of Pat and Tiffany, its comedy might be considered kind of offensive, but Russell expertly side-steps this by making both characters people first and Bi-Polar sufferers second.

One aspect of The Fighter that Russell has wisely brought over to this film is a fascination with nutty blue-collar northeastern families. The family in this film lives in Philadelphia rather than Boston, and they have a similar kind of comedic dysfunctionality, but it never feels like its copying what was seen in the previous film so much as refining it. Russell has also built upon the visual style he established with The Fighter. He’s still relatively restrained compared to the extreme visual experimentation he showed in Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees but he does seem to have opened up a great deal and has once again injected his filmmaking with a lot of energy. In general, The Fighter feels like a mere audition for what he’s done with this film and he’s found a really nice medium between the stylistic excess of his early work and The Fighter’s relatively restrained style.

Many people will likely go to great lengths to distance the film from the “romantic comedy” genre, and I don’t blame them for wanting to do so, but the truth of the matter is that this is a romantic comedy. However, it is not one of those bland and formulaic date movies that the Jennifer Anistons of the world star in and push out on a seemingly weekly basis that have become synonymous with that genre. This is in many ways an example of what the romantic comedy can and should be when it’s being made by a filmmaker who gives a damn about making something memorable and interesting. One could say that The Fighter did the same thing with the sports movie, but I think that The Silver Linings Playbook takes it a step further and manages to subvert its genre’s tropes more often than Russell’s previous film did. There are points of the film, such as its slightly contrived finale, which do get a little dangerously close to some of the genre’s cheesier elements, but by the time that happened I was too invested in the movie to care. The movie probably won’t click in the same way for everybody, but for the most part this is a genuine crowd-pleaser in the best sense of the term.
**** out of Four
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Old 12-08-2012, 01:00 PM   #2
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The promotional material for Silver Linings Playbook did little to excite me. The trailers made the film look like a pretty conventional love story with no surprises. “A quirky boy and girl fall in love? How original,” I thought to myself. A strong cast and director David O. Russell went a long way to increase my optimism, but it wasn’t until the excellent word of mouth that I became truly invested. Thankfully my initial doubts were not fulfilled; Silver Linings Playbook is anything but conventional.

Patrick (Bradley Cooper) is a bipolar young man who has spent the last eight months in a mental institute for a violent incident. In spite of protest from the doctors, Pat’s mother (Jacki Weaver) legally signs Pat out of the hospital to return home. Pat’s father (Robert De Niro) is happy to see his son, but is also worried if the time is right. Early on, Patrick meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who has her own batch of mental issues. Despite having some nasty fights, the two find kindred spirits in each other and decide to help each other out in various ways.

Given the nature of the story, it would not be hard to imagine the film turning into an indie nightmare, but Silver Linings Playbook never takes that route. Instead, a strong sense of realism permeates throughout. This is in large part thanks to a great script (based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick) which avoids turning the characters into quirky individuals, but instead creates very real and believable people. The dialogue is also very good in both dramatic and comedic situations.

The acting here is top notch from everyone. Bradley Cooper gives his best performance yet as Patrick. He captures all the attributes of a bipolar person without ever going too far. Cooper also deserves credit for making Patrick consistently likable even during rough situations. With his work here, Cooper has solidified himself as one of Hollywood’s most promising talents. Speaking of young talent, Jennifer Lawrence is incredible here. She has all the same challenges as Cooper and triumphs just as thoroughly, giving a very powerful and moving performance. Also like Bradley Cooper, I would say this is the best performance Lawrence has given.

Going in, the actor I was most curious to watch was Robert De Niro. De Niro is one of cinema’s greatest actors and my personal favourite, but he hasn’t given a truly great performance in a truly great film in a very long time. Or at least this was true until Silver Linings Playbook. De Niro takes a character who might have come off as cliche and instead makes him a very real character. His work here is extremely powerful, moving, and his best acting since 1995′s Heat. Great work is also done by some lesser known actors like John Ortiz and Anupam Kher. Surprisingly enough, Chris Tucker of all people gives a very good performance. Overall, this is a very well acted film.

The final element that contributes to the film’s realistic feel is the style of director David O. Russell. Russell shoots the film stylistically very similar to how he shot The Fighter. He uses a very “fly on the wall” type approach. The action rarely feels staged and there’s almost a documentary-esque way Russell presents everything. I also give Russell a tremendous amount of credit for being able to switch between comedy and drama so well. I’ve seen dramedies where the shifts can feel jarring and unnatural. Here, Russell is able to weave between both very efficiently, sometimes in the same scene.

One thing I did have correct about the film going is is that the film is very sentimental. While this can be a determent in some films, here it works, mostly because the sentimentality feels earned. The characters all have their problems and need to endure some tough situations. As a result, when things turn around and go right for the characters, it feels like they deserve it. At its core, Silver Linings Playbook is about how with enough hard work one can find positive results. I love dark and depressing films, but I also love films with an optimistic touch. The trick is Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t preach.

Silver Linings Playbook is exactly how one makes a great crowd-pleaser. It’s an accessible film full of humour and likable characters, but Russell does not condescend to the audience by simplifying the film. Instead, Silver Linings Playbook is a smart film which is extremely moving and also quite funny. The acting is great and overall the film is one of the most perfect I’ve seen all year. A must see for all.

Rating: A+
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Old 12-08-2012, 01:03 PM   #3
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Hopefully, I'll be seeing this tonight.
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Old 12-08-2012, 03:59 PM   #4
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This isn't playing anywhere near me. :/
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:41 PM   #5
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Now THIS is how you do a romantic comedy. I found myself liking every character and actually WANTING the two leads to get together. If I go into anymore detail, I'll just be repeating what Dracula and Cooper have said, but bottom line: this movie is great. I can see it picking up a few nominations, and I certainly hope it does.

****/****
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Old 12-08-2012, 09:59 PM   #6
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That's three full score reviews. Awesome.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:44 PM   #7
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I was supposed to see this a couple weeks ago but the theater we went to wasn't playing it. I'm really looking forward to catching up with it.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:03 PM   #8
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I think I must be dating the only woman in the world who would appreciate seeing this!

I even tried too play it off as we'll go see that if you want. As in I'd be doing her a favour going too a romance film. Never worked and I actually really want too see it.

Biatch.
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Old 12-17-2012, 05:58 AM   #9
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I was pretty much running out of movies to watch so I ended up watching this - and mate am I glad I did!!

Everybody acted well in this film - even Robert De Niro playing the father who was a favourite. This has to be a breakout role for Bradley Cooper too, as he delivered admirably. And Jennifer Lawrence too - WOW was she smokin' in this? People dismiss her as ugly, but what the frak are they talkin' about?!?!?! She's not that bad looking at all!!!! And yes I loved her role too. Thought the end of the film was predictable, yet touching at the same time. This is certainly a film with heart.

Rating: 9/10
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Old 12-29-2012, 09:19 PM   #10
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I finally got around to seeing this movie and I'm glad I did, this was one of the better movies I have seen this year. Good performances by the two lead actors Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence also by the supporting cast. It was nice to see Robert De Niro give a good performance instead mailing it in for a paycheck.
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Old 01-01-2013, 02:19 PM   #11
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Like most people, I love AND hate Harvey Weinstein. On one hand, he's a major supporter of Independent filmmakers. On the other hand, he con's the Academy into giving his movies the Oscar for Best Picture. BUT..... he is such a master manipulator that whenever you watch a Weinstein production that's deserving of awards you can't wait to see him start pulling the strings.

Silver Linings Playbook may be the best film of 2012. I say "may" because I still need to watch Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Life of Pi and that damn musical. But I'm almost certain David O. Russell's follow-up to The Fighter will be tough to beat. By now, most of you should know the plot. Bradley Cooper plays a bi-polar man, with an OCD father (Robert DeNiro), that falls in love with the town slut (Jennifer Lawrence). There's more to the story, but that's the main focus.

What's great about Silver Linings Playbook is that within all the madness there's a beautiful love story with characters that are incredibly relatable. The audience is gonna encounter tales of mental and emotional disorders and this and that and whatnot, but none of it truly matters. These are regular folks, like you and I, and everyone can easily put themselves in their shoes. It's fantastic when a movie can TOUCH a broad audience with a very simple and down-to-Earth story. It reminds me of the brilliant cinema of the 1970's. Silver Linings Playbook is real, raw, and relatable but it's also charming, funny, and a joy to watch.
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Old 01-01-2013, 04:44 PM   #12
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Well said.
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Old 01-01-2013, 06:24 PM   #13
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his best acting since 1995′s Heat.
No one will ever admit it, but De Niro was great in those "Meet the Parents" movies. By the way, if De Niro gets an Oscar nomination, which is very likely, it'll be his first nomination since 1991's Cape Fear. It's crazy to think that one of the greatest actors of all-time hasn't been nominated for Oscar in over 20 years.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:39 AM   #14
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Silver Linings Playbook

I just came back from this and I loved it. I can't tell you how great it is to get invested in a movie where I can't tell where it's going or what the next scene is going to bring to the table. This movie had me all the way through the movie with laughs, intrigue and some great acting from Lawrence, Cooper and Deniro. I felt like I knew these people and could relate with them and therefore found it very easy to root for them.

****/****
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:47 AM   #15
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Welcome to the Club.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:49 AM   #16
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It was only released in Madison recently.

Small club, I see.
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Old 01-03-2013, 12:51 AM   #17
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Small club, I see.
Small but passionate.
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:53 PM   #18
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Saw this yesterday and LOVED it.

I didn't know much about it going in except that it had been nominated for and won numerous awards and that the director also directed The Fighter, which is a movie I enjoyed.

The beginning of the movie was good, but when it really picked up and turned into a great movie is after Jennifer Lawrence's character, Tiffany, is introduced. The chemistry between Pat (Bradley Cooper) and her really drives the movie. Both of them deserve the attention and praise they've received for their roles.

The drama and comedy in this movie blends perfectly. I was skeptical that a movie with bipolar main character and love interest with her own psychological issues would be able to pull off the comedic parts seeing as how mental illness can be a dark topic, but I had no need to be worried. The movie portrays mental illness very realistically but still provides great comedy woven in that had the theater I was in cracking up at time.

Definitely my favorite movie from 2012 (still have to see Argo and Zero Dark Thirty later this week though).

****/****
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:32 AM   #19
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There is an inherent sadness in Silver Linings Playbook which permeates the story in an unrelenting way. The theatre I saw this in was full of blowing noses, sniffles, and waterworks from people behind me. Throughout the tears, however, was a certain joy that really characterized lead character Pat's philosophy in life: every negative or bad experience in life can have a silver lining if only you take all the negative energy and use it to find the positive.

Bradley Cooper plays the aforementioned Pat, a man in his mid-tirties who is being released from a mental institution into the care of his caring, but bumbling, mother and his superstitious, OCD-ridden, father, Pat Sr., played by Robert DeNiro. When Pat returns home, he wants nothing more than to return to married life with his wife, Nikki, but that matter is complicated by events of the past, and Pat is forced to cope with his bipolar disorder while maintaining some semblance of a healthy relationship with his family. Along the way, he meets a young lady named Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, an equally troubled individual who finds a kinship in Cooper. While trying to win back his life and learn some new skills, Pat finds a strength not only within himself, but also in his newfound friendship with Tiffany which changes his life.

The acting here from Lawrence, Cooper, and DeNiro was something to behold. I felt every bit as moved by the three of them as I did Denzel Washington in Flight, another movie about heavy illnesses, and yet I found the story to be much more engaging, possibly because we were in the setting of every day, blue collar America, with a little bit of Sunday football thrown in for good measure. The madness of the movie and the characters therein really does take you for a ride, but every twist and turn takes you somewhere good, somewhere unexpected and, finally, somewhere magical. Seeing three capable actors all play three unique characters with their own unique pathologies off one another shows you the maturity they have in their careers. Lawrence and Cooper really held their own with veteran DeNiro, and a number of lesser characters really made for an ensemble cast that could easily make for a great weekly series.

10/10
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:34 AM   #20
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david o russel is back to writing things with meaning... or without meaning... ala huckabees.

i enjoyed this flick.
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Old 01-16-2013, 11:36 AM   #21
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Little off topic, my apologizes. Last night i had a dream of going to the theater and seeing this again. Maybe that is a sign too go back and see it again. Loved the movie but when i first say it, it was in a sneak peak private screening back in November i believe so anxious to see it again since i really enjoyed first time.

On topic sort of, Jennifer Lawrence was best supporting actress for comedy motion picture in this movie in golden globe awards. Glad she won from the runner ups.
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Old 01-16-2013, 01:37 PM   #22
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I need to see this ASAP. I still think "Zero Dark Thirty" might be the best movie of the year for me and I don't think watching this will change that...
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:38 AM   #23
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I saw this again in theatres and changed my review. Watching this in pieces on a laptop just didn't do for me what seeing it all at once in a theatre half-full of people did.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:34 AM   #24
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Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence had great chemistry together. David O. Russell's direction is playful, yet with an undercurrent of seriousness with his examination of mental illness. This is one romantic comedy that I could see myself watching a second time. Great movie.

Rating: *****/*****
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:35 AM   #25
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It was only released in Madison recently.

Small club, I see.


are you in Madison now? I thought you were in Milwaukee?

I somehow missed this movie. I feel bad about life.

oh wait, its still playing in town. I'm going tomorrow!
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