Silver Linings Playbook
Director David O. Russellís (Three Kings, The Fighter)
latest offering, the seven Oscar nominated Silver Linings Playbook,
is structurally a generic romantic comedy but simmering beneath the
clichťs of first kisses coming complete with a circling camera and a
third act dance competition that *Gasp* may decide the fate of this
unconventional couple lies a curiously close to the bone examination of
the tribulations of living with a diagnosed mental illness.
That distinction is important, because although the film deals overtly
with Pat Solitano Jr.ís (Bradley Cooper) diagnosis with Bi-Polar
Disorder, it also becomes obvious that Patís father, Pat Sr. (Robert
DeNiro) has multiple idiosyncrasies that point towards a severe case of
O.C.D. This becomes most apparent when one sees that Pat Sr. treats his
son more as a good luck charm for gambling on football games than as his
own offspring; Pat Sr. believes that his teamís victory hinges on
stringent adherence to certain esoteric rituals, most important of which
is the presence of Pat Jr. during the game. The family brushes off these
rituals as little more than eccentricities whilst conversely treating
Pat Jr. differently now that his diagnosis, and the stigma attached to
it, is known, showing the dichotomy between perceptions once something
Silver Linings Playbook
is a refreshingly honest look at mental illness, deftly sidestepping the
po-faced seriousness normally afforded to the subject by offering an
oftentimes amusing character study where the respective illnesses of the
main characters are incidental to the richness of the characters
themselves. Sufferers of mental illness arenít defined by that one Ė
admittedly sometimes large - aspect of their personality, and Russell
recognises this as a director, refusing to dwell and offer up a tear
jerker about a personís lifelong battle with the detrimental effects of
an illness and instead serving up a love story where mental illness just
happens to be one factor amongst a myriad of stumbling first steps down
the road to love. This kind of restraint when handling such easily
misunderstood subject matter is a rare thing and most surely comes from
Russellís own experiences with his sonís battle against mental illness.
The film starts with former schoolteacher Pat Jr. leaving the
psychiatric institution he has spent the last eight months in with a new
perspective and outlook on life. He has one major goal in his life Ė To
reconcile with his former partner Nikki. The fact that the violent
physical outburst that landed him in the hospital was triggered by her
infidelity doesnít seem to factor in; Pat equates the acquisition of
Nikki with personal contentment.
Forced to live under the watchful eye of his parents (Jacki Weaver and
Robert DeNiro) and attend regular therapy sessions, Pat struggles to
assimilate back into society, especially with his diagnosis and the
baggage that comes with it dangling over his head. When he meets Tiffany
(Jennifer Lawrence in her Oscar winning performance), who has emotional
issues of her own due to the recent death of her partner, heís at first
bemused, then intrigued by her bluntness and seeming comfort with what
others may perceive as character flaws.
Promising to assist Pat with his attempts to win back Nikki, the film
focuses on the budding friendship between the two leads before moving
into the contrived but still charmingly quirky third act where financial
and emotion success relies on scoring five or above in a dance contest;
Pat Sr., after suffering a big loss on a game, agrees to an unorthodox
double-or-nothing bet reliant on both his team winning the following
game and the aforementioned dance results.
This is where the film admittedly takes a few faltering steps in a
saccharine direction, but itís all so delightfully handled youíre more
than willing to forgive these minor quibbles.
Silver Linings Playbook
has an immaculate 1080p transfer with no obvious banding or blocking.
The colours are realistic and fine detail is resplendent in high
definition; the audio comes in a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix
that performs admirably for the most part. Thereís clear channel
delineation and no evidence of audible bleed through. The dynamic range
and fidelity is of the quality expected from a Roadshow release.
The Blu ray release of Silver Linings Playbook has over an hour
and a half of special features; from insightful looks behind the scenes
and snippets from an in-depth Q&A, theyíre all of exceptional quality.
Special mention must go to the deleted scenes Ė One gets the feeling
they were mostly excised for time alone, as theyíre indistinguishable in
quality from the film proper.
List of Features:
The film that became a movement (28:37)
Q&A Highlights (27:00)
Deleted Scenes (26:14)
Going Steadicam with Bradley Cooper (00:56)
Learn to dance like Pat and Tiffany (11:45)
Dance rehearsal (1:22)
The organic quality of the performances lifts the already affecting
screenplay to a level of skewed genius that transcends even Russellís
best work. Lawrence in particular shines and is well deserving of her
gold statuette Ė Even if I personally think she was robbed in 2010 for
her performance in Winterís Bone - and although there are some
moments where one has to suspend disbelief regarding certain plot
elements (The therapistís subplot, for instance) for the most part
Silver Linings Playbook is an accomplished look at love and all the
craziness that comes with it.. Literally, in this case.