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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
A beautiful mess.
I would suggest to anyone who hasn't seen this movie yet to give it a shot. From many of the negative reviews I've read, a lot of the things mentioned in them happen to be the reasons I love this movie. My advice would be to not listen to any of them reviews, and indeed any positive reviews either, and watch it with an open mind. You might hate it and you might love it. Opinions on what works and doesn't work are subjective. But I think the performances in this movie at the very least warrant a chance.
Now on with the review. The main protagonist in this movie is Pat (Bradley Cooper) who suffers from bipolar disorder. He is released from hospital after having a violent episode into the care of his parents. There have been comments as to how this movie portrayed mental illness. As someone who has lived with someone suffering from bipolar disorder and has a close cousin with it, I would say it portrays it quite accurately within the constraints of a 2 hour movie. We're obviously not going to see every aspect of it but the things we do see are things I recognise clearly. But we must remember that Pat is not a portrayal of bipolar disorder as a whole. Every case is different, and every person is different. It's not fair to anyone with the disorder to say that he's portraying what it is to be bipolar. He's just a character who happens to have it. -
This is at the heart of it about two people (Cooper and Lawrence) both of whom are hurt or damaged in some way, and how they're relationship helps to bring out both the best and the worst of each other. I feel like Coopers' performance here is him at his best. The film tends to focus on the manic side of bipolar disorder and I think his performance has both the manic energy as well as some of the subtlety required to make it a respectable, believable performance. As for Jennifer Lawrence. The Oscar was well deserved in my opinion. She played the ups and downs of her character flawlessly, especially considering that her character was an emotional yo yo. The chemistry between the two was less Hollywood and more real life to me. The supporting cast helped ground and at times exacerbate the manic energy of the movie as a whole. De Niro's performance in particular I found to be just the right amount of neurotic and sensitive. When he laughs I laughed and when he cries I felt it. It felt honest.
The writing and direction I thought were superb. They were both like a controlled mess. Which is exactly what it should have been considering what the story is and to match the energy of the characters and performances. Sometimes lines seem random, and the cinematography seems slightly strange, but that to me seems intentional and is what makes the movie all the more accurate and relatable in real life. There's no script in real life. We don't recite lines, we talk. And that's what I love about this. I don't see people remembering lines and cues and standing where they're supposed to. I see people talking to each other, and there seems to be a freedom in their movement that's usually missing in movies but clear as day in real life.
This was one of my favourite recent movies. Beautifully preformed, directed wonderfully and written honestly. I don't really see any weakness in it. But again, like I said, watch it with an open mind, and forget about what any positive or negative reviews have said. A good movie really is subjective. No ones opinion is wrong, so give it a go!