Movie Review: Silver Lining Playbook

I had no idea of what to expect but when I saw a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I knew I had to give it a shot. This is an odd, truly quirky story but the critics are right, this is a good film. And imagine, no car chases, no special effects, and no explosions. Okay, we see some tempers explode a couple of times but there are no pyrotechnics.

In a nutshell without any real spoilers, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), who has apparently lived for years with undiagnosed bipolar disorder, is coming home to his parents' home after an eight month stay in a mental health facility. We learn that he came home one day to find his wife having sex with another man in the shower. Enraged, Pat nearly beat the man to death. That's the background; that's the setup for this quirky story of Pat getting himself back together and his life back on track. We have a terrific cast of characters supporting Pat in his quest for a new life: Robert Di Nero as the father; Jacki Weaver as the mother; Jennifer Lawrence as the colourful and charming love interest; and Chris Tucker as a friend and fellow inmate from the mental institution. I started out with the idea that Pat, having to have been institutionalised was the nutty one but the entire cast of characters all has their own idiosyncrasies to a point where I was left thinking Pat wasn't all that nutty. Add on top of all this, Pat's father is a bookmaker and the theme of betting on sports games, specifically on the Philadelphia Eagles, and there is a certain overall craziness to the proceedings.

David O. Russell
Yes, yes, we laud the actors and there is always the hoopla surrounding the Oscars but I will repeat that every great film starts with a great story. Wunderkind Russell does double duty as both screenwriter and director. He adapted the story from the 2008 debut novel of Matthew Quick "The Silver Lining Playbook". I come back to the Rotten Tomatoes rating of 91%. That rating is based on the reviews of professional critics so Russell is garnering high praise indeed and if I can add my two cents that is a much deserved rating. I did not recognise the director's name but a little research reveals that this gentleman is quite the creative powerhouse. As a director he has to his name "Spanking the Monkey (1994), "Three Kings" (1999), "I ♥ Huckabees" (2004) and "The Fighter" (2010). As a writer, he's done "Spanking the Monkey (1994), "Three Kings" (1999), and "I ♥ Huckabees" (2004). I used the term wunderkind to point out this man's double talent.

I should also add here that with great talent sometimes comes eccentricity. Apparently Mr. Russell has been known to go off on a tangent. During the making of the 1999 film Three Kings, he apparently nearly got into a fistfight with George Clooney. For the 2004 film "I ♥ Huckabees", videos surfaced of the director calling one of the stars Lily Tomlin the most foulest of names and storming off and on the set several times. I have worked with people with their own personal demons and it can be a bit of a challenge. For the moment I will concentrate on the results of Russell's work and not what he did to get there.

 

Final Word
It's a great film. It's a quirky story. It's a slice of life albeit an odd slice of an odd life all done without killing dozens of bad guys with a ton of fancy-pants special effects. It's one hour and sixty-two minutes which will capture your attention and keep you engrossed. What's going to happen next? Wow, I wasn't expecting that.

I recommend the film. I highly recommend it. This is worth forking over the bucks to see it now in the theatres as opposed to waiting until it eventually makes it to Netflix or TV. Make a night of it with dinner. Make it a date night. You'll enjoy it.

 
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References

Rotten Tomatoes: Silver Lining Playbook: 91%
Silver Linings Playbook walks a tricky thematic tightrope, but David O. Russell's sensitive direction and some sharp work from a talented cast gives it true balance.

Wikipedia: Silver Lining Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic comedy-drama film directed by David O. Russell, from a screenplay by Russell, adapted from the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick. The film stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, with Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Anupam Kher, Julia Stiles and Chris Tucker in supporting roles.

official web site: Silver Lining Playbook

Wikipedia: The Silver Linings Playbook (novel)
The Silver Linings Playbook is the debut novel written by American author Matthew Quick. It was released in hardcover in September 2, 2008.

Wikipedia: David O. Russell
David Owen Russell (born August 20, 1958) is an American film director and screenwriter. His films include Spanking the Monkey (1994), Flirting with Disaster (1996), Three Kings (1999), I ♥ Huckabees (2004), The Fighter (2010), and Silver Linings Playbook (2012). He has been the subject of controversy, while receiving much critical acclaim.

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