Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell, 2012)
After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
Taking more seriously my new years' resolutions brought me to watch most of the films nominated for Best Picture at the 2013 Academy Awards. Having seen the highly praised Django Unchained I had to head for the other nominated movies. Back in 2010, David O. Russell directed The Fighter, a sports movie filled with outstanding performances by Amy Adams, Christian Bale, and Mark Wahlberg. This past year Russell comes back with another solid contender to the Oscars once again filled with memorable performances.
We follow Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) who assaulted a man who was sleeping with his wife. He goes out of the mental institution and lives with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) to try to get his things together and regain his wife back. However, he has to make friends with the young Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who just lost her husband. Together, they will help each other to get the right thing to get out of their problems.
Since it's release, Silver Linings Playbook has had a positive hype. It is quite understandable once you get out of the theater with a big smile on your face and satisfaction. Obviously, this is the kind of movie you enter in and kind of guess its denouement and probable ending. However, the rhythm and the performances by Cooper, Lawrence, De Niro, Weaver, and Chris Tucker are some of the elements that take this would be seen before story to another level. One thing Russell can surely do is direct his actors and give them all the humanity they need for us to believe and really care for them. The treatment of mental illness is made with respect and doesn't fall into the predictable and/or worst: the stereotype. In fact, Russell's screenplay adapted from Matthew Quick's novel is brilliantly written with comic subtleties and warm human interactions.
Finally, in a context of an Oscar nominated film one must asks himself is this effort is strong enough to win the major statuettes? Best Picture and Best Director. Honestly, the Best Director nomination is surprising since Tarantino and Bigelow didn't even get nominated. Since, I have only seen Django Unchained, I will judge only on this film that as much as I enjoyed the feelgood aspect of Silver Linings Playbook, its superb performances and its charming story, Tarantino's movie is a better directorial effort. It is nonetheless refreshing to have a movie that is different from the traditional drama that earns Oscar nominations habitually.