Comedy and drama collide beautifully in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’; plus ‘Hitchcock’
One of the highlights from my annual September trip to the Toronto International Film Festival was the irresistible new film from writer-director David O. Russell (The Fighter, Three Kings), Silver Linings Playbook, which has finally reached our shores Christmas day.
The film stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in game-changing performances as two broken people with mental issues who find each other, and while that might sound like a drama, it is so funny it resists being so easily labeled. And, as an added bonus, the film is also a love letter to the city of Philadelphia and in particular, the passion of Eagles fans. Robert De Niro plays Cooper’s father, a rabid Eagles fanatic and bookie. That the native New Yorker is on screen trashing the Giants made me smile.
Bradley is Pat, a man who has spent the last eight months in a state institution after he beat the crap out of the man having an affair with his wife. Newly released into the custody of his parents (De Niro, Jacki Weaver), Pat is still far from past his manic state, although he plans to stay calm and get his wife back. Seeing how manic his dad is as a Philadelphia Eagles fan, it’s clear that his family environment is not exactly the perfect place to find inner peace.
The other half of this soon-to-be engaging, offbeat romance is Tiffany (Lawrence), a young widow whose issues include being so depressed she had sex with everyone at her job. When Pat and Tiffany connect, the film becomes a smart, unconventional love story that is as winning as it is believable.
Unlike the usual run-of-the-mill rom-com, this film bristles with life from the central core of the love story, to the quirky band of supporting players who add to the fun, including the hilarious De Niro, Chris Tucker as Pat’s buddy from the mental institution and the understated Weaver as a mom who just wants her son to be happy.
Bradley elevates his sexy leading man persona to the next level, respected actor, with his Oscar-worthy performance as a man desperate to get his life on track. Lawrence, already an acclaimed and Oscar nominated actress (Winter’s Bone), has topped off her year as an emerging superstar thanks to The Hunger Games with a performance that will also earn an Oscar nomination. We knew she could handle drama, but her deft hand in comic line readings is unexpected and enchanting.
Unlike the 2012 Eagles, this Playbook is full of winning moments.
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I've got a new movie to champion. David O. Russell, writer-director of Three Kings and more recently, The Fighter, introduced his latest, Silver Linings Playbook, to a gala audience last night at the Toronto International Film Festival, and this morning (Sunday, Sept. 9) to the press with a media screening and press conference.
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