Fri 16 Nov 2012
A while back I heard of a movie called “Silver Linings Playbook”. All I could think was what a terrible title for a movie it seemed. As the release drew nearer, finding out it stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver, I began to understand the buzz that’s been going around.
Now that I’ve seen it, well … I guess I should remember that “buzz” can mean so many different things. First of all, 2012 is a very, very bad year for American films. A few come to mind when trying to think of what stands out but the likelihood of anything that’s been released this year meaning much of anything in five or ten years is low … very low.
Also, whenever you put together two of Hollywood’s hottest actors (Cooper & Lawrence) and add in one of the old guard (I hope you can tell I mean De Niro), the probability that swooning will occur from all those involved in awards prognostications increases exponentially.
I imagine that savvy readers know where this review is headed at this point. Frankly, this movie feels so uneven to me that I can’t quite tell if I should just let it wash right over me or hold onto my irritation. Part of my frustration may stem from overestimating the trailer. I knew there would be plenty of comedic moments but was hoping the more dramatic elements one associates with mental illness would display themselves in the actual film … oops. My bad.
From the first ten minutes, trying to get comfortable with the tone of the movie was impossible and I couldn’t tell if the audience laughing at certain elements didn’t understand this was drama or if I was just having a bad night. I suspect a little bit of both but as the movie went on, the characters slowly shed the mental illness and just started acting like two people with broken hearts. It felt like a cop out and a dodge.
That’s not to say I hated it entirely, the performances from top to bottom are all fine. Lawrence and Weaver especially stand out, but everyone reached an actors’ glass ceiling due to the script. Characters ended up being caricatures and what began as a story about battling personal disorders turned into a predictable romantic comedy.
Now I do suggest taking all that I’m saying with a grain of salt. First of all, I’m writing this immediately after seeing the movie in order to have the review ready for day of release so there’s only been about an hour of processing time. Second, the screening audience ate everything writer/director David O. Russell served up like they hadn’t eaten in days; and I’ve spoken with other critics who absolutely loved the movie. I’m just not one of them and find the way in which the story trivialized and marginalized mental illness off-putting, to put it mildly. I completely understand those who want to go see this, and that most of you out there will probably enjoy it. We’re just going to have to agree to disagree.