May 5, 2013
by Derek Defoe
Silver Linings Playbook is a very charming movie and I felt invested with the love story. It's a very unconventional one on its surface but at its core, it's a nice love story, you want the guy and the girl to get together, and OH MY GOD SPOILER ALERT, they do, and it's satisfying. The movie also deals with mental illness, but not the truly scary kind, but just enough so the characters are still likable and we still root for them. The main character had suffered from delusions, and acts out violently, but, you know, he's still Bradley Cooper, so we still like him. It's kind of bizarre that they'd set a rom-com like this against the backdrop of dealing with some very, very serious afflictions- and don't get me wrong, I think it's treated respectfully enough, and accurately to a point, but, jeez, the movie gets so bogged down to its make-it-or-break-it final act, and the -will-they-won't-they of the romantic leads, I swear, you forget for a second that they have serious mental problems. Either that's a major mistake of focus made by the plot, or maybe the point is that they forget, too.
There's also good stuff about family, and this kind of modern Americana, and the rituals of the game day, and superstition, and fate, and everything coming together and all that. And it's nice. It's done very well. It's the kind of movie that leaves you feeling good and I guess that's the point of most romances. It's just that I think maybe this one has higher aspirations and tries to get a little bit deeper but it doesn't quite get there but that's totally okay because what we're left with isn't bad at all.
The acting is very good. Jacki Weaver, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Chris Tucker are all great as the key characters. Jennifer Lawrence in particular, I mean, I don't have to tell you that she won an Oscar for her performance, and she's wonderful here. She's modest in interviews about her acting talent but that was an Oscar well-earned, in my opinion. I love her. And I love her butt. Did you see her butt in this movie? Oh my lord, that butt. Give that butt an Oscar or something.
But anyway. I don't really feel too passionately one way or the other about this movie. I think it probably could have been better and there are definitely aspects, especially as it nears the end where it gets to be goddamn ridiculous with its plot points, and there were moments where I just wanted to say "Okay camera, calm down. You don't need to be so fucking flamboyant. That's just a shot of a car pulling up. No need to zoom in wildly and pan around 360 degrees. I know this is a David O Russell movie, but seriously, take it down a notch."
I think as a romantic comedy, it does its job in creating characters that we like and that we genuinely want to see get together and it creates an appropriate amount of obstacles in their way that don't feel too contrived like many other movies you'll see that may as well be manufactured on an assembly line. And by including the mental illness aspect it gives them a certain drive and allows the actors themselves to work with a little more eccentricity than, just, I don't know, smiling at each other and waiting for the end for the big kiss after oh-so-many misunderstandings and pitfalls, teehee. It's a lot better than that. The movie has respect enough for the audience to not treat them like idiots who have never seen a movie before, but at the same time, it does not deprive us of the happy ending, and it earns its way there. As a rom-com, this is gold. As a drama dealing with issues of mental illness, I'd say it's silver.