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Is this Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper Oscar-winner just another so-so romance, or the real deal....?
Anchor Bay / 122 Minutes / 2012 / Rated R / Street Date: April 30, 2013
Silver Linings Playbook is a slippery, tricky mishmash of a movie that will have you groaning in agony one moment then welling up during others. Like the characters the film follows, SLP is volatile and often skittish: even though it follows a decidedly formulaic romance/comedy rubric, its emotional brashness nevertheless leaves viewers sometimes wondering where the hell it’s headed.
This writer actually saw the movie twice during its theatrical run – once to see what all the awards-season brouhaha was about, and again to figure out whether I really liked the thing all that much. Silver Linings has been overappreciated (and there’s no question that it will age poorly), but there’s something in the water: with the myriad of potholes David O. Russell throws our way, I must admit to being sorta kinda almost swept away by the thing.
The movie’s focus is dysfunction in all its mysterious fashions. Pat (Bradley Cooper) is coming off a bad divorce – and a mean bout with mental illness that has kept him in an institution for a while – and his parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro) do their best to nurture him back into the world, but they provide equal parts TLC and gas on the flame. Does Pat want to get back with his wife? Or will the neighborhood hottie (Jennifer Lawrence) prove to him that it’s best to leave his past behind?
Again, I’m not entirely ready to sign on the dotted line defending Silver Linings Playbook as an exceptional piece of work – watching it again on Blu-ray provided me the same emotional highs and lows it did in theatres – but there are nuggets of magic in the brittle framework of Russell’s movie that really work. It’s an uneven, frequently pedantic piece of broad-stroke filmmaking, but I can’t quite shake it.