There are some actors I do not think much of mostly because they play it safe almost always. Bradley Cooper is one of them. For some reason, I haven't found his style of acting agreeable. Silver Linings Playbook in which he plays a hateful character is a congenial exception. It's like a conversation the film had with the preconceived notions in my brain and it went something like this: â€œHe's pretty bland isn't he? Annoying, even. Yeah we know. But this character is annoying too, right? He's screwed up but look he's trying to fix himself.â€ Boom! You're already empathizing with him.
The film is about Pat (Cooper); he is deemed â€œmentally unstableâ€ after his wife cheated on him. No not that kind of unstable, I mean actually unstable. He is discharged from the mental hospital and is on probation. He has to visit a shrink and act â€œnormalâ€. His personal mission is to keep going strong till he has a shot at the silver lining. Basically he wants to get his wife back. One of the beautiful tricks the film pulls off is how it sneaks up on you and makes you root for the two lead characters. How many films these days can be called "inspirational"? Seems like everybody is too busy making masterpieces.
Pat's parents are played by Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver. De Niro is in his element after very long. His choice of roles after he stopped working with Scorsese has been rather alarming but here he finds the right tone. Weaver, who took everyone by surprise in 2010's indie hit Animal Kingdom, does not get to exhibit her full potential but she's effective. Anupam Kher does not do a wannabe American accent and keeps it real. After Anil Kapoor and Irrfan Khan's measly roles in big budget Hollywood films, finally an Indian actor makes a mark.
Although, the single most beautiful, drop-dead-everything trick that is unleashed is called Jennifer Lawrence. She owns the film. I had a gigantic crush on her but now I'm suffering from an acute case of the J. Law syndrome. She is radiant and quite simply a rare beauty. The fact that she is a terrific actress adds invaluable weight to this dazzling discovery. Winter's Bone (2010) was her breakthrough performance and you may think I fell in love with her in X-Men: First Class (2011) or The Hunger Games (2012) but no, it was her bit roles in The Beaver (2011) and Like Crazy (2011) that did it, where she stole each scene she was in. It doesn't take much to figure that Silver Linings Playbook is her best performance yet. It might also be one of THE performances of the year. She made fall in love with Tiffany and I'm sure I'll be returning to this film solely for this character. She made holding hands romantic again. She made the climax with a kiss romantic again.
The third act of the film is cheesy romantic romp but it's cheese done right. This film reassures the romantic comedy genre, but even while it's playing by the book, it never feels slight. I also felt a whiff of screwball comedies from the 1930/ 40s blow past me quite a few times (Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, I thought). Especially when I heard Misty on the soundtrack. The dynamic screenplay juggles great dialogue and flawed characters with done-to-death movie conventions while maintaining the perfect pace. Silver Linings Playbook is a high-quality crowd pleaser.
There are very few films which we can call instant classics. This isn't the Annie Hall (1977) of the romantic comedy genre but the fact that I even drew that comparison means something. It sure means a lot of Oscar nominations. If As Good As It Gets (1997) and Jerry Maguire (1996) can, so can this one. It's a no-brainer that this film would also be a hit with the Academy, not because it is Oscar bait (in fact, it isn't), but just because it is so bloody good. I'm slowly beginning to think it might even take the big prize. David O. Russell scored it big with The Fighter (2010), which I didn't particularly like. This would be my favorite film of his, Three Kings (1999) being a close second, followed by Flirting with Disaster (1996). Silver Linings Playbook has all of his idiosyncrasies in all its dysfunctional glory. It would be easy to mistake this film for a safe one, which goes down the yellow clich\xe9d road, but a wise man once told me: â€œA good story is a clich\xe9 well told.â€ Most importantly, this is a film that sticks. It is pleasantly memorable and worth recommending.view less