This is a unique speciman, a rare ‘comedy’ which garnered significant Oscar consideration, and yet, doesn’t quite feel like any comedy we’ve ever seen before. Such is genius of David O Russell to create a comedy which doesn’t rely on gags but a palpable feeling of energy from the subject matter as heavy as psychological disorders such as bi-polarism.
Silver Linings PlaybookStarring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker
By Alan Bacchus
His succession of films from Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees and The Fighter we’ve seen Russell hone a style of mise-en-scene which harkens back to early the early comedic sensabilities of The Marx Bros. That is, playing out his dialogues in long takes, and with as many characters as he can fit in the frame and with a 1930's screwball comedic rhythm. The result is a kind of organized chaos controlled by the comic timing of the actors in real time with the manipulation of editing.
The best moments of The Fighter, arguably were the raucous dialogue sequences with Mickey Ward’s family, scenes with a dozen characters in a room and often in the frame. There are a number of such scenes in Silver Linings Playbook, in particular the showcase scene wherein Jennifer Lawrence’s character Tiffany storms into Bradley Cooper’s house to confront him about standing her up. The scene begins with the arrival Cooper’s character Pat, and his pals engaging in a heated discussion with Pat’s OCD-afflicted father played by Robert De Niro. Jennifer Lawrence’s ability to go toe-to-toe with Robert De Niro, tongue-lashing him into silence and then apology arguably is what won Lawrence her Oscar.
What’s remarkable about the scene is the sustained energy and tension throughout, starting with just De Niro and Jacki Weaver discussing the loss of their sacred Phillies, then the argument between Cooper and De Niro, then Jennifer’s Lawrence’s aforementioned showcase speech ending with the key plot element of the scene, the parlay bet made by De Niro with Paul Herman’s Ralph character.
David O Russell keen ear for music compliments the nimble pace, a soundtrack ranging from Led Zeppelin to Alabama Shakes to Rare Earth. An eclectic mix, but everything seems right. But it’s deservedly award-recognized performances, the best for Cooper and Lawrence, and no doubt the best for De Niro in the post-Scorsese years, which resonates most in this humble yet memorable picture.
Silver Linings Playbook is available on Blu-Ray from Alliance Films in Canada