Saturday, March 2, 2013

3 Short Paragraphs: Silver Linings Playbook

2012, David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings) -- cinema

Silver Linings Playbook was an Oscar-contendor structured movie about the damage caused by unchecked mental illness mirrored against how many of us deal with the triggers of it every day.  If you only saw the trailers leading up to the Academy Awards (excuse me, now rebranded officially as The Oscars) you might have thought of it primarily as a dance movie with love story.  But no, it really is mostly about crazy people in love. And some dancing.

I originally caught interest in the movie when TIFF trailers were circulating.  It looked to me like a darkly comedic movie, a small story about a man returning from his stay at the psychiatric hospital, to discover healing through his family and a new love. The subplot was that there is crazy in all of our lives and it is how we deal with it that makes the difference. I was hoping for something darker, more challenging, along the lines of Rachel Getting Married.  Alas, we got Oscar-fodder, and by that, I mean the plot elements they focused on were a dance competition and the big lead up to a grand exclamation of love, only missing a jog through a field of flowers... while wearing a rainshield made of garbage bags, of course.

A few minutes into the movie Marmy leaned over to me and whispered, "Imagine Ben Affleck playing the Bradley Cooper role."  Suddenly it all made sense to me -- the perpetual facial scrub, the working class family, the hoodie & sweats, and the bulky shoulders.  This was meant to be an Affleck vehicle and could have even inserted Matt Damon into the friend in the terrible marriage role.  Its not that Cooper wasn't good at playing Pat, but you could easily envision Ben doing the gestures, the rants, and the detached attraction to Jennifer Lawrence's Tiffany.  But at least Lawrence carried this movie for me, as the not so much damaged as traumatized young woman surrounded by neurotic "normal" people.  Very grounded in her role, she owned (pwned perhaps?) the character keeping hurt, angry, vulnerable, caring, thoughtful and sexy all tightly wound in her portrayal with the appropriate bursts of emotion expected from a person dealing with so much. And yeah, I heart Jennifer and all her post-Oscar reactions to her win.