Silver Linings Playbook takes a ride on the bi-polar express.
I am going to try to coin a new term and see if it catches on in the Internet world – “RomComDram.” I might have to hash tag it to see what happens. It might take some getting used to but it is the only word that I can think of to describe David O. Russell’s latest movie Silver Linings Playbook. It’s a little funny, a little romantic and a little dramatic.
The film doesn’t even start with opening credits, we start with Pat (played by Bradley Cooper) talking to himself in a mental institution. He is reciting lines aloud on how he is going to win his ex-wife back. We jump around to random events at the institution and out of nowhere his mother, Dolores (played wonderfully by Jacki Weaver) whisks him away, well along with his mental institution buddy Danny (played by Chris “Where has he been for the last 10 years?” Tucker), who is constantly trying to escape from the institution.
Once at home we discover that Pat Sr. (played by Robert De Niro) has lost his job and is now a bookie. We also discover that Pat Sr. has a bit of OCD; in fact, everyone in the whole darn cast has some kind of mental issue. Pat probably has it the worst with his bi-polar disorder and violent tendencies. He is on a mission to win his ex-wife back, who has a restraining order against him. This proves his mission a little more impossible. It also makes the movie a lot more dramatic. He refuses to take his meds and believes that she will take him back if he shows her that he can improve on his own while keeping physically fit. Without his meds, he becomes more and more violent.
Pat takes up running to keep fit and runs into an old friend who invites Pat to dinner. His friend isn’t necessarily crazy, but he works a job he hates to please his wife and buys her nice things even though he feels the weight of the world is suffocating him (which on a side note could be considered a bit crazy). At the dinner party, Pat is introduced to the foul mouthed sister-in-law Tiffany (played by Jennifer Lawrence) who is just as crazy as Pat. They get into a quick discussion about all the different meds they have been put on over the years.
Pat and Tiffany do not hit it off right away; he is still convinced that he is married to his ex-wife. Tiffany, a recent widow, wants to sleep with him, but the lights have to be off. Sounds like the making of a romantic movie. They could have gone their separate ways but of course being a “romcomdram”” (copyright pending), they are drawn back together when Pat’s psychiatrist helps him realize that Tiffany can get a message to his ex. As with most “romcoms” (“romantic comedy,” that one was already established years ago) to bring the two potential lovers together, there has to be a pushing off point where they need to work on something uncomfortable together. And that something is, wait for it….a dance competition. Yep, in this pop cultural world of “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” TV shows, Russell gives us an unoriginal story about dance competitions.
While Pat is preparing for the big dance, Pat Sr. wants to spend time with him because he has good juju for the Philadelphia Eagles. He even goes out a limb and bets his life’s savings on one game where Pat blows up at a game and the Eagles lose. Now Pat Sr. is in trouble, so he goes double or nothing plus a parlay where Pat and Tiffany need to get a score of 5 at the competition. Being a “romcom” I am sure you can guess how this all ends.
Should you see this movie? Ehh…maybe. If you have someone in your life that has a mental illness this might speak to you on some level. It’s pretty predictable on the romantic endeavor front considering what will happen between the two co-stars who hate each other at first but fall for one another after working on their dance moves.
Russell tried very hard with camera techniques to zoom in and out and make quick shots that turned most of the film into just that – a film with lots of quick, unnecessary zooms in and out. But, similar to his last film The Fighter he does have a great ear for solid music to set the scenes, using Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash/ Bob Dylan, The White Stripes and Led Zeppelin to the film’s advantage.