'Silver Linings Playbook' Movie Review, Written by: Karen Benardello
When adults struggling with mental illness are faced with conflicts that they have difficulty comprehending and moving past, their families often feel the straining effects on their own lives. The families often do whatever they can to try to protect and save the person trying to get over their fears and internal battles, but often times fail to understand what they're truly going through. That's the main motivating cause of conflict in the upcoming comedy-drama 'Silver Linings Playbook,' which opened Long Island's Gold Coast International Film Festival at Great Neck's Clearview Squire Cinemas last month to a sold out audience. Opening at area Long Island theaters on Wednesday, writer-director David O. Russell's memorable film offers a realistic, emotional look into the struggles families face after a member has an emotional break-down related to their mental illness.
'Silver Linings Playbook' follows Pat Solatano (played by Bradley Cooper), who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and lost everything, including his house, his job as a teacher at the local high school and his wife, Nikki (portrayed by Brea Bee), after spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain. Pat's mother, Dolores (played by Jacki Weaver), arranges for him to be released from the hospital and move with back in with her and his father, Pat Sr. (portrayed by Robert De Niro), who lost his job and has turned to gambling to make money. They want Pat to get back on his feet, and share the family obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles. But Pat is determined to rebuild his life on his own terms-his major goal is to reunite with Nikki, despite her restraining order against him and the challenging circumstances of their separation.
Pat's road to recovery is deterred by Tiffany (played by Jennifer Lawrence), his widowed neighbor and the sister of one of his friends, Veronica (portrayed by Julia Stiles), who is still in contact with Nikki. Since Pat is determined to reconnect with Nikki, Tiffany offers to help him save his marriage, as long as he'll be her partner in a dance competition she's determined to enter. As their deal plays out, Pat and Tiffany form an unexpected bond with each other that they both have to learn to navigate. While Dolores and Pat Sr. are confused over where their son's relationship with Tiffany is headed, one of Pat's fellow patients from the hospital, Danny (played by Chris Tucker), encourages his friend to continue his new bond with the woman he has so easily connected with.
Cooper, who has garnered fame from the comedic 'Hangover' series, proved what a vibrant, versatile actor he can be with his portrayal of Pat in 'Silver Linings Playbook.' The actor drastically, but believably, changed his acting approach in order to portray his detached, and at times delusional, character, who refused to fully accept the consequences of his actions in the film. When Pat is first released from the hospital, he is insistent that he will win Nikki back, and will be re-hired by the school, even when the people around him continuously tell him he has to move on with his life. After he meets Tiffany, Cooper gradually makes Pat realize that he can move on with his life, and truly be happy without the things in his old life.
While Russell offered the actors some rehearsal time before they began shooting the comedy-drama, the well-cast performers truly formed a natural, realistic bond with each other once they began filming. While he only had 33 days to shoot the entire movie, the director continuously kept the camera running and filmed many scenes several times. The actors were able stay in the moment and have their characters truly connect over, and understand, their differing views on how Pat could move on from his marriage, and how his father can come to stop his gambling and stop blaming his own problems on his son.
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