Saturday, January 5, 2013

“Silver Linings Playbook”: Crazy Love

I can’t remember loving two movie characters more than I loved Pat and Tiffany last night. Which is crazy because they’re both crazy.

In David O. Russell’s romantic comedy “Silver Linings Playbook,” he (Bradley Cooper) is bipolar while she (Jennifer Lawrence) is painfully reassembling her psyche after the death of her husband.

As the film begins, Pat is released from a mental hospital into the custody of his wary working-class parents (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver). Invited to dinner at the home of his friend Ronnie (John Ortiz) and wife Veronica (Julia Stiles), he is introduced to Veronica’s sister Tiffany. Pat discovers that he and Tiffany have a lot in common, including bad social skills and intimate knowledge of pscyh meds like clonapine. Not surprisingly, not easily, the sparks eventually fly.

DeNiro’s dad is a bookmaker clinically obsessed with the Philadelphia Eagles, though he has been banned from the football stadium because of a violent streak. The complex, heart-tugging relationship between father and son provides counterpoint to the developing love story between Pat and Tiffany. Eventually Pat must choose between watching a critical football game with Dad and entering a ballroom dancing competition with Tiffany.

Cooper and Lawrence are both cute with a capital Q, but there is something more than looks, sex appeal, and great comic timing behind their performances. “Silver Linings Playbook” is about two damaged people whose hearts are still beating. They are awkward, they insult each other, each slips up a hundred times while trying desperately to connect with the other, but they never ever stop trying. 

The “Silver Lining” here is the unquenchable human desire to connect with something greater than ourselves—no matter how far down we have fallen, or how far up the sky.

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