Monday, November 19, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook

I saw a t-shirt that read:
I’m bi-polar.
Are you?
I’m not.
I was reminded of that as I watched Silver Linings Notebook, the new film by director David O. Russell.
It was, initially, difficult to take in this story wherein Bradley Cooper plays Pat Solitano, a life-long, undiagnosed sufferer of bi-polar disorder until he snapped when he found his wife in the shower with one of her co-workers while the song from their wedding played on his boom box.  (That can rock your world apart.)

But, Cooper’s very good performance of this volatile character with, as he says, no filter on his mouth is balanced by the superb performances of Robert De Niro as his OCD, sport’s-obsessed father, and Jacki Weaver (an unfamiliar actress to me) as his loving mother, who tries to balance out all the progesterone and keep her family together. 
They mellow out the difficulty of watching their son’s refusal to go on his meds, but, when Jennifer Lawrence enters the scene as Tiffany, the young widowed sister of Larry’s best friend, we are treated to an out-of-this-world, extraordinary performance that takes a fine film to stratospheric heights.

No longer the young girl of Winter's Bone  and The Hunger Games, Lawrence is a powerhouse woman of enormous talent. In fact, hers is the best performance by an actress this year, so far.  I’m not sure who is in the cards to go against her by year’s end...perhaps, Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty...but, Jennifer is surely in the lead right now.

Director Russell's and excellent Cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi 's extensive use of close-ups would be dangerous with a lesser cast. But, here, it highlights the intensity of the building relationship between Larry and Tiffany and shows off the incredible honesty that Lawrence brings to her role.  Everything about her is real.  Watching her, it’s easy to understand, why You-Know-Who lost the election.  He didn’t understand that even average Americans can be exceptional.
Hats off, also, to the wonderful supporting cast, especially John Ortiz as Larry’s stifled best friend, Anupam Kher as his wise psychiatrist, Dash Mihok as the officer assigned to Pat's case and Chris Tucker as his fellow rehab inmate, who teaches him to relax and have soul.

I give Silver Linings Playbook a 4+ out of 5, but Jennifer Lawrence gets a 5+.

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