wogma rating: Beg or borrow, but do watch (?)
David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic comedy with a difference. With mad, endearing characters and a wonderfully charming cast, the film is a genuine delight. It shows you that everyone has issues and that we must just deal with them; life and love will happen along the way. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and the rest of the cast will win your hearts in this little film that’ll make for a fun watch with friends or family.Read more
All of us are crazy, in some way or the other. As much as we’d like to pretend that we are sane while some others are not, there’s no escaping the fact that there is something inside every single person on the face of the earth that makes them weird, insane, and at times, downright neurotic. Each of us is a square block trying our best to fit into a round hole. In the charming little world created by David O. Russell in Silver Linings Playbook, a host of dysfunctional characters deal with their own little insanities in their everyday life, while coming to terms with loss, friendship and love.
Far from being a typical romantic comedy, the film is a warm ride of smile-inducing moments and characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. We peek into their lives, walk with them a while and then leave them, knowing that they’ll continue with their madness; after all, we were only incidental spectators.
We are immediately introduced to Pat, who has spent the last eight months in a psychiatric facility in Baltimore, for reasons explained a little later in the film. His mother signs him out and takes him back home to Philadelphia, so that he can get on with bringing normalcy back into his life. But then that is precisely what the film deals with; what exactly is ‘normal’? Pat, a married man, gets on with the task of setting things right with his life and his estranged wife, when he meets Tiffany, a recently-widowed woman who has her own issues. Together, they set about helping each other deal with the mess in their respective lives.
The first, instant connect that one makes with the film is the manner in which the characters speak to each other; it seems real, because in real life, rarely do people talk in full sentences when in conversation. We often cut each other off, we often speak simultaneously and we almost often talk more than we listen. The writing, direction and the performances work so beautifully together to achieve this effect of the characters conversing how people do in real life.
Also, every character has their own little lunacy that finds resonance within you on some level. So there’s Pat’s obsessive-compulsive father who is superstitious about the presence or absence of objects and people while watching a football game. Then there’s his mate from the psychiatric hospital who can only talk about his hair; and so many others, each of whom you can’t help but adore.
What I really liked about the film is the fact that you always know where it is going, but that doesn’t stop the film from surprising you throughout. It thrives on the simple principle that the journey matters more than the destination; how you get to the end matters more than the end itself. So, even if the story isn’t novel in any way, the screenplay is tinged with humour in everyday lines and events, with the odd outlandish situation that will make you smile wide.
My only real problems with the film were largely technical – minor directorial oversights like some suspect choice of shot framing, particularly in long dialogue scenes, as well as frequent axis jumps. Axis jumps are fine as long as they don’t ruin the illusion of continuity, but they often do so in this film. Also, I often got the feeling that a number of the dialogues and scenes were far longer, but were cut short – a call taken at the edit stage, I suspect.
The plethora of nominations and wins that the cast of the film has garnered comes as no surprise; every single one of them is outstanding. Bradley Cooper has always had a likeable, charming presence on screen. But his turn as Pat comes as a huge surprise. He manages to capture every little beat of his character’s quirks so beautifully that it blows you away. The gorgeous Jennifer Lawrence, best known for her role as Katniss Evergreen in The Hunger Games, manages to spring a wonderful performance as Tiffany. Tiffany is, if possible, an even crazier character than Pat, and Lawrence completely wins your heart with her performance. I didn’t know that she had it in her to turn out such a mature performance at such a young age.
I was glad to see one of my favourite actors, Robert De Niro, back in form after such a long time. After a slew of indifferent characters that he has played lately, he finally sinks his teeth into the heartwarming character of Pat’s father. Jacki Weaver plays Pat’s mother; she expresses more with her eyes than through her words, and she does a wonderful job as well. One of my other favourite actors, our very own Anupam Kher, plays Pat’s psychiatrist in the film. He has a small role, but is a joy to watch. Also, what a relief to finally not have an Indian actor speak with a silly accent in a Hollywood film.
No one buys an old-fashioned romantic comedy anymore, because both, the romance and the comedy, are invariably cranked up beyond necessary. Silver Linings Playbook is a new age romantic comedy, one where the romance and comedy are far more real and identifiable. It is a film with heart as well as a sense of humour, and both of them are bound to charm you. Watch the film; there is a good chance that you’ll be smiling throughout, and that you’ll leave the cinema smiling.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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