Tuesday, December 04, 2012

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK: My review

David O. Russell is one of those filmmakers who is capable of making an extraordinary movie or a giant piece of shit. You wonder how the same guy could make FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, THE FIGHTER, and also I HEART HUCKABEES. He’s one of those artistes who thinks a lot of himself. I saw him at a Q & A at the DGA after HUCKABEES screened and let’s just say Orson Welles was more humble. (Maybe the O. stands for Orson?)

So I went into his latest effort, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK holding my breath. The reviews have been excellent but so were the reviews for FLIGHT so those mean nothing. But happy to say I thought SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK lived up to its billing. David O. pulled it off. This is one of his good ones -- his very good ones.

There are some films you love from the Universal logo and others you need time to warm up to. The latter was the case for me. It’s a little long and we get that the lead character (played beautifully by Bradley Cooper) is bi-polar. Six meltdowns instead of twelve would have sufficed. But once the movie gets going it reels you in.

And why? Because Jennifer Lawrence is spectacular!

I know this sounds weird to say because she’s not that old herself, but Jennifer Lawrence is the young Claire Danes. She is only 22 and already has achieved the impossible – salvaged an acting career after being a series regular of the BILL ENGVALL SHOW. Her Oscar nomination for WINTER’S BONE was not a fluke. I expect her to get another this year and quite possibly a win.

Also, credit to David O. for writing her such a killer part. (I should mention at this point that the film was adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick.) I always tell young scribes that when they write their great American spec screenplays always think of the actors. You’re never going to sell your spec regardless of how uber clever of is unless you have created exciting, memorable, original characters. And this film is bursting with them. Jennifer's, in particular, stands out. But so does Robert De Niro’s.

This was the best performance I’ve seen De Niro give in probably ten years. When you watch him do crap like LITTLE FOCKERS and ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE you forget that he’s one of America’s premiere actors. This film returns him to fine form.

Oh... and honorable mention to Chris Tucker.  He's what Tracy Morgan thinks he is but isn't in the same galaxy.  

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK manages to juggle football, ballroom dancing, mental illness, romance, obsession, and Raisin Bran into one well-constructed satisfying motion picture. I heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good holiday love affair between two highly damaged individuals. And let’s face it, who doesn’t? The movie is billed as a comedy, and although it had more laughs than the Judd Apatow trailer, I would consider it much more a drama with some comedic overtones.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is a terrific movie. Just don’t tell David O. Russell. If you think he was hard to live with before... 

I know it's playing in Los Angeles and New York.  Hopefully, it's in your town or will be soon.  Here on Maui I expect it to open in 2014. 

24 comments:

Tim W. said...

It's been on my list of movies I want to see. Didn't know it was David O. Russell, for some reason. Thee Kings is one of my favourites and I also really liked The Fighter and Flirting With Disaster.

It's also nice to see a David O. Russell movie where one of the cast didn't try to beat the crap out of him (Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees).

Larry said...

I wanted to like this film but a charming romantic comedy about a dangerously psychotic man didn't really work for me. But then, what do I know--I sorta liked I Heart Huckabees.

Mac said...

I'm looking forward to this. Flirting With Disaster was funny and I quite enjoyed I Heart Huckabees but I know I'm the tiny minority. Three Kings was interminable; I reckon that's why Clooney punched him - it was a script note.

XJill said...

I love I Heart Huckabees and really enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook. I thought Bradley was equally as good as Jennifer, though. She's a lock for a nom but I really hope he sneaks one in there too.

That's funny Tim W. because I actually saw the movie and didn't know it was DOR either. I mentioned to a friend afterwards that tonally it was very unique, going from very dark to comedy to dark to rom com and they said "well you know it's DOR" and I was like "ooooh, it all makes sense now."

Dave Creek said...

Just saw it today and my wife and I loved it! We were especially proud of Jennifer Lawrence's performance because she's our hometown girl from right here in Louisville, KY!

Matt Bird said...

"FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, THE FIGHTER, and also I HEART HUCKABEES" Hmm, I don't get it. Those are three wildly entertaining movies. Where's the bad egg?

Duncan said...

Jennifer Lawrence has another film coming out next year - Serena, based on the book by Ron Rash. She may have yet another nomination coming for that.

Betsy Dorkuspig, Utica Tattler said...

After seeing De Niro in this film, movie lovers are all saying, ‘where have you been?’

Jeffrey Lyons, syndicated film critic said...

Best movie of the year!

James Rone said...

I loved this movie, but I also LOVE I Heart Huckabees. It's a ridiculous premise, and totally overwrought. I genuinely hated it the first time I saw it, but for some reason ended up watching it again, and now I own it and have watched it a lot. The overreach of it appeals to me as the effort of a filmmaker who is genuinely struggling to make sense of his world, but understands how silly he looks while doing it. Maybe I just identify!

Little Miss Nomad said...

Personally, I thought John Ortiz stole the show, and, from what Russell says, he basically wrote his character.

RyderDA said...

Have you noticed that the Kuki Mall 4 theatres in Kihei have closed? They recently approved a development for between the Kihei Safeway and Longs Drugs that will have new theatres, but until that's built (in 2014 or so, you have to go to Kahului (or Lahaina) to see a movie.

Gene Shill-it said...

"Silver Linings" rates a #1 in this critic's playbook!

flurb said...

I didn't buy this one. It struck me as a standard rom-com script, salted with a touch of mental illness to attract Mr. Oscar. The whole thing gets fakier as it proceeds: studly Bradley's mental illness goes away as if by magic - he takes a pill and poof! his troubles disappear, with no signs of the until-then-dreaded side effects. Of course, Russell had to make the thorny issue of bi-polar disorder vanish in order to lay the groundwork for the "Dance Contest 14d Third Act Conclusion" from the "Sell Your Screenplay Now!" textbook...

I might have been able to forgive some of the predictability if the director hadn't topped it of with yet another tired MTV slice-and-dice-quick-edit for the big dance-off. Imagine the effect of a full-frame single take of the actual dance - it might have been a metaphor for the whole movie, instead of just another part of a tidy Hollywood ending, complete with romance to a stunning adoring heroine fifteen years younger than the hero: the Hollywood producer's favorite fantasy, and boring, boring, boring.

Johnny Walker said...

Hurrah! I'm glad I'm not alone in thinking that I (LOVE) HUCKABEES was incredibly pretentious.

Thanks for the review, Ken, I'll check this one out.

Mike said...

I loved this movie. When I reviewed it I gave it my highest rating. The scene where Lawrence wins over DeNiro about the not being bad luck was wonderful. I was really surprised that I enjoyed Chris Tuckers performance so much. But the film doesn't really get going till Lawrence shows up, but when she does, man it gets good.

Emma said...

Loved your review of Silver Linings Playbook and agree with what you say - particularly about David.O and Jennifer Lawrence making it tick.

I loved the film in general, I though Pat was a little intense at times - and like you say we really don't need 12 meltdowns just to show he's bipolar!

Anonymous said...

I've never gotten the I Heart Huckabees hatred. I'm an uber film snob, of the highest order...and that film kicked ass. Pretentious? That's a common adjective for things that people just don't "get". The above comment referring to it as "I love huckabees" proves that point. Yeah...the "heart" should be "love"....*eyeroll*. Flirting With Disaster was ahead of its time, as witnessed in its similarity to the later made but slightly better Broken Flowers. This review was right on target with the reviews I've heard from fellow film afficionados, and I can't wait to see it. Thanks for the write up! Also...conceit isn't arrogance when it's earned. Credit to David O where credit is due. Orson Wells too, for that matter...

Steven Akin said...

Can't wait to see it, really. Loved Huckabees and 3 Kings a toooon!!!

Flutter Bye said...

Just saw the movie with my teenage child!! We thought it was greaaaaaat!! If you ask me 12 meltdowns weren't enough. If there were 12, was way to into the movie to count!! The movie had a little bit of what someone who has bipolar could go through on a daily basis as well as what their family's go through dealing with them. The acting was awesome!! I hope they make more movies like this, it's a great way to reach out to friends and family and ease them into understanding what people diagnosed with bipolar go through... MOST of us won't sit down and read a book on how to help or deal with the disease, it's like watching paint dry!! However MOST of us will take the time a go watch a feel good movie!!!

Sher Shayari said...

The movie was very interesting romantic love story.Pat became mad eventhough and at last Nikki got him back. So i like this picture and i will suggest my friends to see very good lovely story.

Yaz Ranjiri said...

With all due respect, I really hated this movie, which was particularly disappointing because a friend had recommended it as one of his all-time favorites. I've read enough reviews to realize it's one of those love-it or hate-it films.

Scene by scene, the story felt contrived and manipulative, as if self-consciously shouting: "NOW look at what these wacky characters are doing and saying!"

The female lead, Tiffany, seemed crafted as the embodiment of every teen boy's fantasy (she's hot! she's ballsy! she swears!), but throughout she's little more than a desperate, self-centered young woman who supposedly makes up for it by her love for protagonist Pat.

I wish this really HAD been a film about two people with mental illness who learned to live with their disabilities and to love others as they are.

But, there was a silver lining: The actors were terrific and made the most of the script they were given.

Anonymous said...

Folk, whomever thinks David O Russell did an amazing job obviously never read the book. The book is a modern day classic. The template to make this movie was simple as the book was written similar to a script. However Russell put his own terrible twist into his script and ruined the movie. If he followed the book to a T, it would of easily won best picture. What a waste!

Anonymous said...

I agree Russell took an excellent book and totally missed the point. He made detrimental changes such as taking out the suspense and adding in pointless arguements.
I also felt he missed the whole silver lining ending that was the "moral" of the book
Total shame