Silver Linings Playbook is surprisingly one of the year’s best!

Why surprising?  Because it looks like a typical romantic comedy, yet with a sharp, intelligent script written by director David O. Russell and fine, award-worthy performances you end up with a beautifully funny, honest look at the human condition.

Russell has become a master of subtlety and realism.  Like in The Fighter, he puts very non-Hollywood characters on the screen.  These are real people.  Broken, vulnerable, strong, generous, manipulating, etc-etc.  This is what life looks like–messy.

And although some may argue that his direction is little more than “point and shoot”, they’re missing his careful craft.  The decisions Russell makes are the reason this does not fall into the typical rom-com formula.  He is not afraid to linger on the ugly stuff and he knows how to build characters.  As someone who has first hand knowledge of mental illness, I appreciated how Russell handled the subject–he never turns it into melodrama or theatrics.  Well done.  Silver Linings Playbook is perfectly written and directed–Russell deserves any and all accolades heading his way and he may have, again, guided actors to award glory.

Let’s start with Bradley Cooper.  He is a revelation.  I’ve liked him since Alias (Will Tippin  shout out!) and have enjoyed following his career, but this is the fulfillment of his potential.  I knew he had it in him! Cooper plays a man, who is NOT a catch–he is tormented and scarred and you still want to cheer for him.  That is largely due to Cooper’s charm.  This guy is a star.

And now for the lovely Jennifer Lawrence.  WOW!  She is incredible.  She blew me away in Winter’s Bone and I knew then, that she was a force to be reckoned with–boy, I was right.  There are several scenes that she had me spellbound.  It’s amazing that someone who is so young can emote such strength and confidence that is also laced with pain and longing.  This girl is a star.

Add an amazing supporting cast–Robert De Niro (best performance in a while), Jackie Weaver (not evil this time, but still awesome), Chris Tucker (he can act!?) and two great character actors that get some well deserved screen time–Anupam Kher and John Ortiz–and you have a strong assemble that only enhances the story.

I can go on and on–but you know what I am going to say–I want to enjoy this all on your own.  You are in for a wonderful slice of life–you will laugh and cry and hopefully learn something from the experience.

Silver Linings Playbook Official Movie Trailer [HD] – YouTube

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Although fun–Limitless doesn’t reach its potential–

An original idea. Strong performances. It should be good–right?  Well almost.  Limitless falls prey to Hollywood formula screenwriting–must have external obstacles and a villain–which both could have been internalized for a much stronger film.  Instead it becomes a light popcorn movie.

And that is a shame, because it had so much potential.  A man that is given full access to his brain’s power and capacity.  The possibilities are limitless–yeah, I know–but it true.  How do you handle the sudden change?  The impact on the mind? The soul? So, what starts well–including a wonderful scene that introduces his new found abilities–quickly turns superficial.  It becomes more about what he does than what is happening to him.  Deep sigh. Ah, well.

I did enjoy Bradley Cooper in the role. (Abbie Cornish and Robert DeNiro were mere bit players.)  This is Cooper’s movie and if only he were given more to work with it could have a been a big turn for him–but nope–he’s still all smile and sex appeal.  Not that there is anything wrong with that…  🙂

It is not a waste of 2 hours–it is well paced and is overall fun.  If you could ignore some stupid things done by a genius mind and go along for the ride–you will have a good time.  I just wish it could have an incredible time.