Middle of the Row
I just got home from Silver Linings Playbook.
Philadelphia is playing Dallas as I type this, which is especially amusing because that football rivalry plays a small part in the film. I haven't read Matthew Quick's original novel, but I'm pretty much in love with David O. Russell's adaptation. The Master may well be my film of the year, but Silver Linings Playbook is outstanding.
All the performances (Cooper, Lawrence, De Niro, Weaver, Tucker) are excellent. The two women I saw it with gave a lot of credit to Bradley Cooper (and he's great, not just a pretty face, playing nutty, vulnerable, and dangerous), but Jennifer Lawrence is spectacular. I haven't seen Zero Dark Thirty yet and I understand Jessica Chastain is getting a lot of much-deserved Oscar buzz, but Jennifer Lawrence was terrific in Winter's Bone and she's terrific in this. I have one of those Michelle Williams-type crushes on her, which means I'll happily go see anything she's in.
There's a whole lot of running in Silver Linings Playbook. The main characters are running from past mistakes, they're running from treatment and conventional wisdom, and they're running from each other. Cooper and Lawrence have a meet cute (feet cute?) as they pound the pavement in the opening scenes. Only someone who's never seen a movie will be surprised by the eventual outcome, but that's not supposed to be a dig at Russell or his film. He takes his time, lets the story breathe even while his characters are out of breath from some emotional outburst. It takes a lot of control to choreograph a train wreck, and Russell nails it.
There's a reason they don't make romantic comedies about ugly, inarticulate people. Oh sure, Cooper and Lawrence are unbalanced as hell, but they're so pretty to look at you can't help root for them.
De Niro brings a lot of warmth and frustration as Cooper's father, and while I thought Jacki Weaver was just fine as the mother, I couldn't help but see Sally Struthers each time Weaver appeared on the screen.
An easy film to love.