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LFF Review: Silver Linings Playbook (Surprise Film)

While the awards night was being held on Saturday, another event was being run for the press and public to see a surprise film – A tradition of most film festivals around the world. For which the mystery title is kept a secret, right up until the first flicker of the film through the projector. Speculation was that it would be down to PTA’s The Master or Cloud Atlas, so as soon as we heard Bradley Cooper’s voice-over we knew it was Silver Linings Playbook. I’d suspected it was Silver Linings as Bradley Cooper had been spotted getting coffee at Starbucks earlier in the day. There was some initial disappointment from people who were hoping for The Master, but by the end of the film, you could tell that everyone was impressed with the film picked.

David O. Russell is not one of those directors I had a lot of time for in the past. His infamous rant at Lilly Tomlin on the set of I Heart Huckabees, and his near fist fight with George Clooney on Three Kings pretty much gave me the impression that he was a massive ass-hole with a chip on his shoulder. But after seeing Silver Linings, and his openness about his own son’s mental health issues you begin to put two and two together. He’s clearly suffered from these problems too and with the subject matter of Silver Linings, you couldn’t imagine anyone better to direct. Which is why you get a unique portrayal of mental health, which doesn’t feel sorry for its protagonists.

Pat Solitano(Bradley Cooper) is released from an eight month, court-ordered stay, for his violent response to his wife’s infidelity. And so he tries to spend every waking hour preparing himself for his ‘Silver Lining’ – A day when he can return to his wife, fixed and renewed…that is, if she ever decides to remove the restraining order. His plans are however disrupted by his best friend’s histrionic sister-in-law. At a disastrous friendly dinner party, the two quickly realise they have something in common and begin to swap stories of medication use. Here begins the bond that drives the film.

Bradley Cooper looks worn out and frizzled. The moments when he starts to loose it look legit and he seems pretty fragile too. Jennifer Lawrence, on the other hand, looks in control and focused – It also needs to be mentioned that she was twenty-one while filming this, so she is clearly playing above her age here. But that’s no surprise considering the acclaim she got for her mature performance in Winter’s Bone. Robert De Niro also has a significant supporting role as Pat’s father. He too, struggles with mental health (a bad case of OCD) and it becomes obvious that it runs in the family. As I’ve mentioned in other reviews from the festival, it seems that the best films are not from one particular actors stand-out performance, but rather an incredible performance from an ensemble. There is one particular scene towards the final act, which involves all the actors in one tiny room having an argument that is expertly timed out like an orchestra piece, with a good dose of humour as well.

It’s good to see Bradley Cooper playing a role that stretches him dramatically. We all know he can play the comedic ass-hole in comedies like Wedding Crashers and the Hangover series, so with Silver Linings expect to see him nominated along side John Hawks for The Sessions. The same goes for Jennifer Lawrence, who has already been nominated for Winters Bone – perhaps the timing is right to give her an award? But like Cooper she will be up against her rival from The Sessions, Helen Hunt.

This film should appeal to a wide range of cinema goers, fulfilling the romantic dramedy genre that is far better than the crap romance comedies being churned out over the last ten years. I highly recommend it as one of the top five films to see this year.

Released in the UK on 21st November

GRADE: A-

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Trackbacks

  1. […] David O. Russell’s film about relationships and mental health is very honest and based in the directors own real-life experiences. Both Russell and his son are plagued by mental health issues, so you can see why the sympathetic and humorous, yet sweet approach works for it. It’s also a rom-com that can appeal to both sexes and is not overly cheesy. Silver Linings is probably the hot favourite right now for Best Picture, since the controversy with Zero Dark Thirty appeared. We’ll see…[FULL REVIEW] […]

  2. […] As young as Jennifer Lawrence is (22), she has always shown a wisdom beyond her years in many of her past roles. She was previously nominated for Winters Bone (*which reminds me I still need to see that) and was hotly tipped to win an Oscar in the near future. So it’s no surprise she won tonight for her role in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. See the films review here. […]

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