Silver Linings Playbook (US, 2012)

Mental relationships

Mental relationships

I thoroughly enjoyed this film of two halves; the first sets up Pat’s bipolar disorder difficulties (for him and his family) while the second plays for the ‘silver lining’. I am already of fan of Jennifer Lawrence and now I can see the qualities of Bradley Cooper. He’s been groomed as a potential star, following the success of the Hangover movies, with mixed success. Hollywood doesn’t seem to be interested in stars any more; they became too expensive. The new ‘stars’ in Hollywood’s (accounting) book are franchises; of last year’s top ten grossing movies in North America only Ted wasn’t serial in nature.

Robert De Niro, who often seems simply to be going through the motions of wrinkling his face, is excellent as Pat’s (Cooper) father, who clearly has OCD issues of his own linked to his love of baseball.

Spoiler alert: the two halves I alluded to above consist of a serious portrayal of mental illness, leavened by some comedy (particularly courtesy of Chris Tucker), whereas the second is conventionally Hollywood in its rush to an obvious ‘happy ending’. We may have expected something different as this is, after all, an independently produced movie; albeit with Hollywood talent on the screen. However, it can be read that that writer-director David O. Russell (based on Matthew Quick’s novel) is overtly offering us the ‘silver lining’. In watching the film, so sympathetically played are the protagonists that I suspect most in the audience are desperate for them to hook up. To what extent, at the end, the audience are convinced that ‘love conquers all’ (even mental illness) I am not sure; but it felt good at the time. The degree to which Pat continues to take, or not take, his medication isn’t made clear; something of a cheat I think.

The protagonists’ relationship starts to develop when they are jogging; I absolutely love the way Tiffany (Lawrence) seems to appear from nowhere to join Pat; her movement is a slick as a snake’s.

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