Friday, February 15, 2013

"Silver Linings Playbook" with Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper (2012)

David O. Russell did an excellent job of writing the screen play for this movie, which is taken from the novel by Matthew Quick. Set in present day Philadelphia, the film tells the story of Pat, Jr., played by Bradley Cooper, who is released from John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after becoming violent when he finds his wife in the shower with another man.

After 8 months, his mother, played by Jacki Weaver, comes to pick him up and take him home. But, there are conditions to his release. He must remain on his medications; which he routinely spits out; and he must not have any contact with his estranged wife, including staying several hundred feet from her place of employment. Any violation of these conditions will see him returned to Baltimore.

Arriving at home in Philadelphia, Pat, Jr. finds that his father, Pat Sr., played by Robert DeNiro, has lost his job and is taking bets on sports events as a way to make a living. Pat, Jr. cannot seem to come to terms with the dissolution of his marriage. He feels that if can just explain to her what happened that day when he caught her in the shower, he can move on. But, there is that pesky restraining order to be dealt with.

He hooks up with an old friend, Ronnie, played by John Ortiz, who is married, and through him meets a woman named Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence. Her husband was a police officer killed in the line of duty; leaving Tiffany widowed and deeply troubled. She has been on a bender, sleeping with just about anyone she can, to fill the void left by her husband’s death. When Pat, Jr. meets her, things begin to happen.

He continues to eschew the medications and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. His main goal is to get back to his wife; even if just to explain his actions and what caused him to lose control. He also longs to return to teaching, which his diagnosis as bi-polar prevents him from doing. So, he begins to look for the “silver linings” in his life as a way to regain control of himself. The biggest problem he has is that he hears the Stevie Wonder song “My Cheri Amour” playing over and over in his head. It was the song he and his wife danced to at their wedding, and was also the song playing on the radio when he discovered his wife in the shower. Whenever he hears it; or thinks he does; he becomes out of control, threatening the very freedom which he cherishes.

As he becomes involved more and more with Tiffany, he begins to realize that we are all, to some extent, obsessed with something or other. His father is a fanatic Philadelphia Eagles fan, and risks prison for taking bets on the game. After all, how sane is that? As Pat and Tiffany get to know one another more, they begin to feed off of one another with surprising results. What begins as a love-hate type relationship evolves into a deeper understanding of both themselves, as well as those around them who affect their lives. In the end, the question which hangs in the air is not whether Pat, Jr. and Tiffany are flawed, but rather it becomes apparent that we all are; in one way or another.

Robert DeNiro gets better and better with each film he makes. It doesn’t matter if he is directing, or just acting, he simply matures more with each film he does. 

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