4 reasons to see Silver Linings Playbook

silver linings playbook

I’m just back from a screening in the plush, cosy screening room under the Covent Garden Hotel in Monmouth Street (which has the best Christmas lights in London). I’ve been chatting with the very charming, unpretentious, part-Irish Bradley Cooper who I mainly knew beforehand from great silly films like The Hangover and Wedding Crashers. Silver Linings Playbook is a very different kind of comedy, subtler, more authentic and more romantic. I laid my newly hatched theory on him that Jennifer Lawrence in this movie is very like Meg Tilly in The Big Chill, that vibrant young sexuality allied with a strong individuality, they even share that slightly oriental look – and she does a load of stretching and dancing stuff in that movie, Bradley kindly added to the theory. I think he was convinced – or just very polite. Especially for someone who’s just arrived this evening from LA (where he half lives, the rest of the time residing in his native Philadelphia). We talked a bit about acting with De Niro (he said how generous De Niro was on set to support his performance) and how strong De Niro’s performance is in this film, standing out from almost all of his recent roles. And then a bit about NFL, the older Enfant Terrible being the proud owner of an Eagles shirt from before his defection to the Patriots – which got us into teens and how this film has much of use to say about resilience and taking control in adversity. It’s a pretty much flawless script from David O. Russell, complemented by perfect, judicious improvisation. I asked him about the latter and he highlighted scenes where they went most to town, though within well defined parameters, De Niro’s method, like the parlay betting scene and the comparing meds scene. So the 4 reasons are…

1 The powerful chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, not least in the dancing scenes

2 The exquisite direction by David O. Russell, which has the confidence of a man with a real vision (and a script he’s spent five years honing)

3 A fantastically diverse soundtrack which makes great use of Led Zep (What Is and What Should Never Be), the recently departed Dave Brubeck (Unsquare Dance and Maria) and the classic duet of Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash from Nashville Skyline (Girl from the North Country)

4 The uplifting treatment of a difficult mental health issue, highlighting the ubiquity of craziness and how positive and energising it can be.

Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence

Meg Tilly

Meg Tilly

Jennifer in 2010s dancing gear

Jennifer in 2010s dancing gear

Meg in 1980s dancing gear

Meg in 1980s dancing gear

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3 comments so far

  1. [...] More on Silver Linings Playbook here [...]

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  2. theluckhabit on

    Well Arkangel I’ve got to say it. I thought it was incredibly thin. Trite, superficial, music (however good) wholly unrelated to the film and made with award ceremonies in mind. Let’s tick the boxes – deals with an ‘issue’ (check – but it didn’t deal with it at all), something for music lovers (check), sport for the American male (check), falling in love for the American female (check), sexy woman (check), De Niro for credibility (check – although I did like his excellent words on grasping opportunity just at the end)…I could go on. However, after about twenty minutes (once JL appeared) I realised that the enjoyment of the film would lie in suspending my critical faculties for the remaining 100 minutes and watch it as a routine rom-com (with a little JL oggling) where I tried to guess how they would get to the blindingly obvious ending. It just had ‘fall in love, beat mental illness’ written all over it and appealed to that almost primal fantasy that many of us have to fall in love from leftfield. But that’s been done to death. 2.5 perhaps 3 stars out of 5 for the excellent acting esp. De Niro.

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  3. ArkAngel on

    Doug, I think you’ve become (even more) cynical in your old age ;-) David O. Russell was inspired to adapt this story by his son who suffers from bipolar disorder – you see him in the movie as the annoying kid next door with the video camera. I think it’s good to take Rom-Com as the starting point and read this as a new angle on a much-loved old form. Much genre cinema is about getting the audience from A to the inevitable, indeed obvious Z by an unexpected and enjoyable new route.

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