ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS:
- Best Picture
- Best Actor – Bradley Cooper
- Best Actress – Jennifer Lawrence
- Best Supporting Actor – Robert De Niro
- Best Supporting Actress – Jacki Weaver
- Best Director – David O. Russell
- Best Film Editing
- Best Adapted Screenplay – David O. Russell
There are ideas that seem to get perpetuated in certain media that A.) The only people who understand someone with a mental illness are other people with mental illness and B.) This is regardless of what those illnesses are. Silver Linings Playbook is essentially based on these ideas being true, which from my own experience, never seems to actually be true.
We are told by his therapist that Pat (Bradley Cooper) is “undiagnosed bipolar.” He was in a mental facility and is being medicated, so I’m not sure why he’s “undiagnosed bipolar” instead of just “bipolar.” We know that Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) is also medicated, but we aren’t explicitly told why. We know she’s medicated because Pat and Tiffany have an eyeroll-inducing conversation discussing various medications they’ve both been on, which they bond over, while Tiffany’s sister Veronica (Julia Stiles) and her husband Ronnie (John Ortiz) look on silently. Because Pat and Tiffany are crazy! And Veronica and Ronnie aren’t! Clearly the only people Pat and Tiffany can have a decent conversation with are each other.
Pat’s mother, Dolores (Jacki Weaver), checks Pat out of the mental hospital after he’s completed a court-ordered 8 months, but she does this against the doctors’ wishes. She also does this without telling her husband and Pat’s father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), and despite the fact that Pat is seemingly delusional and definitely volatile. It’s not clear why she does this, except for the fact that she’s his mother and doesn’t want him far away in a mental hospital. But because she seems to genuinely be concerned about his progress and also sort of scared of him, why would she take him out against doctors’ orders?
I guess one of the main points of Silver Linings Playbook is the well-worn trope that “everyone’s a little crazy.” Though Pat and Tiffany are the only ones medicated, Pat Sr. has supposed OCD tendencies (although he’s mostly just superstitious), Dolores is a pushover, Veronica is a control-freak, Ronnie has unexpressed anger and frustration. But Pat and Tiffany seemingly tell it like it is (“I don’t have a filter when I talk,” says Pat) so we’re supposed to think they’re somehow more evolved instead of just childish and annoying.
Things only seem to look up once Pat finally starts taking his medication and able to control himself more. That’s one thing Silver Linings Playbook seemed to do well; show how hard it can be to get certain people to take their medication and then what an amazing difference it can make. But while Pat seems to be improving, Tiffany continues to lie and be manipulative until the end of the movie, so I’m not sure how we’re supposed to take that.
And despite trying desperately to be unconventional for the whole movie, it still ends in a sappy, conventional way. Pat writes Tiffany a letter declaring his love (love!) for her, despite figuring out all her lies. In fact, Pat has loved Tiffany from the moment he met her! It just bothered me that this is clearly incredibly irrational (two relatively unbalanced people, after lying to each other for a long time, declare their love for each other before they even kiss), the scene is set up to be romantic and not at all irrational. Not to mention that though we never get the characters’ ages, Bradley Cooper is 18 years older than Jennifer Lawrence, and looks like it. Whatever!
None of the acting was bad, per se, (although I would love an explanation for why Chris Tucker’s character existed), but they certainly weren’t anything special. Yelling a lot, speaking fast, and acting unbalanced does not a good performance make, necessarily. Neither Cooper or Lawrence captured the subtlety of mental illness, only the obnoxious, easy-to-see parts. Robert De Niro was fine, and he cried, so I guess that’s enough for an Oscar nomination. The biggest concern I have, in terms of Oscar nominations, is Jacki Weaver getting nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Dolores is mostly in the background looking concerned. Most of her lines seem to be about what snacks she’s making to have during football games. I don’t get it.
Cloud 9 Shit List
This was not a horrible movie. Though I thought it was one of the worst I have seen this entire year, it certainly makes no effort to stray away from the conventional movie criteria. We have our protagonist, he has his problems, a woman shows him the right path, and all ends well. The overly formulaic feel of Silver Linings Playbook is definitely what made this movie difficult to watch.
Chris Tucker’s character served no purpose, why would a psychiatrist hang out with his patient, and having to listen to Eagles fans talking abut the Eagles, were a few of the moments from this film that made me dislike it. I did go into watching this thinking I wasn’t going to like it but from the beginning it was hard keep engaged. I know David O. Russell must love Philadelphia but he certainly doesn’t make it seem like a nice place to live or even visit. I hope he is able to break away from these suburban middle class problem story lines and does something a little more enjoyable like I Heart Huckabees.
The worst part of the movie to me was the scene where Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) informs Patrick’s Dad (Robert De Niro) that she IS in fact not a bad luck charm for the Philadelphia sports teams but exactly the opposite. We find out that this young sweet girl, 22, is not truly bad for this bipolar man, 38, because every time they meet up great things have happened for Philadelphia sports. This is fantastic that this is true because Patrick’s family is bewildered to hear this, including Patrick. Apparently one of the nights she and Patrick went on a date the Phillies even won the World Series!!!! If this is true, then why wouldn’t a room full of hardcore Philadelphia fans, INCLUDING Patrick know this already? Did no one actually watch a game? Did they just wear jerseys and memorabilia all day long for the fun of it? They kept on saying that Patrick was an Eagles fan but he definitely didn’t show traits that this was true. He never once in the movie watched a game. But I guess stuff like this doesn’t really matter as long as the story gets resolved right?