Silver Linings Playbook (2012) has been showing at the New Capitol Cinemas. It is one of the better films of last year - and one that focuses on the human dimension of our existence, without resorting to excessive violence. In the Golden Globes Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress for her grasp of Tiffany Maxwell.
Silver Linings Playbook has seven Oscar nominations, five of the six top positions (picture, but not director, all four acting statuettes, plus adapted screenplay and editing). It is worth seeing because it is a good film, heart-wrenching, but not a tearjerker. The story has universal qualities that are grounded in unique characters.Patrick 'Pat' Solatano Junior (acted bravely by Bradley Cooper), after losing his wife, home and job, has been incarcerated at an institution in Baltimore. His parents have made a plea bargain, and got him released to come home to Philadelphia, as long as he respects a restraining order that he must stay away from his wife Nikki (acted by Brea Bee - when you eventually meet her). His long-suffering mother (played beautifully by Jacki Weaver) has come to pick up her son. Another inmate, African-American, Danny (Chris Tucker), Pat's friend, tries to hitch a ride back to Philadelphia with them.
At home in a tight-knit old suburban community Pat tries to adjust. He has been diagnosed bipolar or a person with mood swings, a schizophrenic. He believes, once out of incarceration, he doesn't need his 'meds' (medications) anymore - "they make me foggy". Pat's slogan is Excelsior (onward and upward) and his belief, "If you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining". He got locked up because he went berserk when he found his wife naked in the shower with a "history teacher with tenure" who told him, "You should go".
Pat had been working as a temporary substitute teacher at the same school. What made it worse for Pat, a kind of trigger, is that Nikki was playing the music they used at their wedding - this was too close and personal for Pat - it was just too much for him. There was a prior incident, but it is easier for Pat to forget his history and focus on the one that caused his explosion.
Besides living at home with his caring mother and his obsessive father, Patrick 'Pat' Solatano Senior (Robert DeNiro having fun being an old man), Pat must see his shrink regularly, Dr Cliff Patel (Anupam Kher) and accept the supervision of his restraining order by police officer Keogh (Dash Mihok). Dr Patel and Pat have some of the best patient-shrink discussions to be found in movies. Officer Keogh is there more for comic relief. Pat Senior is living a problem himself.
Having lost his pension, he is addicted to gambling (and a belief in supernatural connections that explain winnings) and has a deep obsession for a Philadelphia team, The Eagles. He has been banned from the stadium because of his anti-social behaviour. His overwhelming desire now is to get Pat Junior to sit down and watch a game on TV with him.The action really begins when Pat's old friends Ronnie (John Ortiz), and his controlling wife, Veronica (Julia Stiles) who is Nikki's best friend, invite him to dinner and to make a foursome, invite Veronica's sister Tiffany Maxwell (a striking Jennifer Lawrence, who starred preciously in Hunger Games and Winter's Bone). Pat remains obsessed about seeing his wife again, but when he looks down at Tiffany, her underdressed cleavage and the moles on her breasts, you can see him shudder - with attraction. Still, Pat remains streamlined; not about to get side tracked. She, on the other hand, is attracted to him, and with his steely sense of purpose displayed on his sleeve, wants immediately to leave the gathering.
They are both, so far, losers, hurt souls, striving to remake their lives and become better people. Pat's route, he is determined, is back to Nikki. He keeps saying, "I'm a married man." Tiffany, though lost her policeman husband after three years of marriage in a freak accident, and then she went berserk. She was fired from her job, and has recently been rebuilding her life as a dancer. She has a dance studio in a transformed garage out in back, behind her parents' house, where she teaches and lives above the dance floor. They both like running, and there are some marvellous scenes when they meet and converse while treading air. Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic comedy that accentuates the positive - it could be called an ensemble comedy, as there are so many characters in it.
A stirring optimism runs through it, a conviction that there is something at the end of the rainbow - a better life. Pat sees Tiffany as a means to reach out to Nikky. She offers to help him, if he will help her - a quid pro-quo. In keeping to this deal, his life will be transformed - and so will hers. Tiffany is a most surprising young woman with a rare beauty and earthy intelligence that will help her to rise out of the traps into which she has fallen. What is amazing about this flick is that nothing is really predictable.
The dialogue is quirky and unexpected. What you think is going to happen, won't happen, but then again it might. In all it is fun, leaving the viewer with positive feelings, instead of all the nightmares found in the violent and dark fare that populates our cinemas (Good Day To Die Hard; Zero Dark Thirty; Django Unchained; Gangster Squad; Jack Reacher; Lawless; Flight and Skyfall) movies in which hundreds die - is it really fun watching people die violent deathsMight be better to watch a good romantic comedy - the clouds do have silver linings. Silver Linings Playbook is two hours long. It is rated 16+. The director is Jack O Russell who also wrote the script based on the novel by Matthew Quick (2008).
Russell's last film here was also a good one The Fighter (Mmegi, 25th March 2011). The cinematographer is Masanobu Takayanagi. The editors are Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers. The music is by Danny Elfman and the dances are choreographed by Mandy Moore.