After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
As the result of a childhood wish, John Bennett's teddy bear, Ted, came to life and has been by John's side ever since - a friendship that's tested when Lori, John's girlfriend of four years, wants more from their relationship.
Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to compete.
Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1980.
Against medical advice and without the knowledge of her husband Pat Solatano Sr., caring Dolores Solatano discharges her adult son, Pat Solatano Jr., from a Maryland mental health institution after his minimum eight month court ordered stint. The condition of the release includes Pat Jr. moving back in with his parents in their Philadelphia home. Although Pat Jr.'s institutionalization was due to him beating up the lover of his wife Nikki, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Nikki has since left him and has received a restraining order against him. Although he is on medication (which he doesn't take because of the way it makes him feel) and has mandatory therapy sessions, Pat Jr. feels like he can manage on the outside solely by healthy living and looking for the "silver linings" in his life. His goals are to get his old job back as a substitute teacher, but more importantly reunite with Nikki. He finds there are certain instances where he doesn't cope well, however no less so ... Written by
Following The Fighter, David O. Russell takes another familiar story and reinvigorates it with a spirit of ensemble chaos. Scenes are stagey and dialogue crackles, and gestures flail and faces grimace, as if everyone's aware the camera is there and they all want to play to it. It's an uncanny dramatic style, one that drags you along for the ride, even when it sits incongruously with the naturalistic aesthetic.
Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a bipolar sufferer snatched from the asylum by his nervous mother, and brought home to recover in a real madhouse. Pat is obsessed with the idea of rekindling his marriage, the violent break- up of which was the cause of his original breakdown. (We needn't worry about any scary unpredictable outbursts - Pat's much-referred-to anger is strictly regulated by the code of Hollywood morality and comedy.) To do so he enlists the help of Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a dirty babe who needs a partner for a Dirty Dancing competition.
Silver Linings Playbook is ostensibly about mental illness, but really it's selling the age-old myth that any emotional dysfunction can be overcome with a Positive Mental Attitude. It does peddle it with vigour: there's real chemistry between Lawrence (more animated than usual) and Cooper (unsubtle but effective); the dialogue has an enjoyable runaway mine-cart quality; and the relationship between Pat Jr and Pat Snr (Robert De Niro, in his best role since Stone) is sometimes affecting.
But however Russell garnishes it, this is a predictable film which betrays its interesting setup by descending into a boring fairy tale. By the time the climactic dance-off comes around, rather than rooting for the meetcute triumph, I was desperate for Russell to claw back some anger or oddness or edginess, rather than following the Nicholas Sparks routefinder to easy soft-focus satisfaction.
It has the look and feel of an Oscar contender (in itself that's neither praise nor condemnation), but it's not clear for what it might win. The performances are decent, without plumbing the depths of those in The Master, while the script is zippy but thematically all over the shop. We'll just have to wait and see what's left after Lincoln sweeps the board.
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