Reel Talk: “Silver Linings Playbook”

Silver Linings Playbook

Honestly, “Silver Linings Playbook” wasn’t the top film to see over winter break. Sure, I wanted to see it, but it wasn’t the film that was screaming at me to spend $15 to go and watch.

But man, oh man, am I glad I saw it. David O. Russell’s clever masterpiece pulls at your emotions so much it hurts and draws you into the lives of the characters so seamlessly, you can’t ignore it — regardless of how hard you try.

Do I think it will win the Oscar for Best Picture? No. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it does either.

In comparison to films like “Argo,” “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Lincoln,” “Playbook” is an underdog, which is also how I would describe the movie’s major players. Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a former history teacher suffering from bipolar disorder, who lives with his OCD father (Robert De Niro, in one of the best performances of his career) and his “normal” mother (Jacki Weaver). The movie begins with him leaving the institution, and follows his readjustment to life back home and his relationship with Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), a widow recovering from sex addiction.

Pat has difficulty coping with his disease and that struggle is not just shown with the best acting of Cooper’s career, but with the way it was filmed. That was probably one of my favorite things “Playbook” had to offer. The camera angles and filming style are unsettling, claustrophobic, uncomfortable and a parallel to how Pat feels. His obsession with reconnecting with his estranged wife — who placed a restraining order against him — makes him manic. The shots make the audience feel the same way. It’s a struggle to watch, just like how it’s a struggle for Pat to coexist with those around him and not go crazy.

I really liked how Russell portrayed mental disorders in the film. Pat’s father’s OCD has manifested into an obsession with football and superstition within sports culture which, as a sports fan, was something I never really thought about before. It was extremely clever and it added another layer to the movie.

And now it’s time to move onto Lawrence. There is nothing else to do except question how someone can be so perfect. In scenes loaded with some of the world’s greatest acting talents, Lawrence claims every scene she’s in. She’s smart and broken and sexy and funny and more than deserving of the Best Actress Oscar. I think the best part of this performance and why it’s the best acting of the year is because she plays “crazy” realistically. The lines between crazy and camp intersect so easily that for someone to play it as realistically as she does is much more of a feat than it’s usually given credit for.

With the direction, filming and acting aside though, I think this movie works so well and has a shot at Best Picture, because this is a story that everyone (really, everyone) can relate to. What we see in every character is that, whether they’ve been diagnosed or not, they’re all a little bit messed up. And I think that perfectly mirrors how we all feel sometimes.

We all have our own issues and problems, and we’re all entitled to the way we feel and think, because we’re human. Sometimes we get really down on ourselves, and we stand in our own way or drown in ourselves without a life jacket in sight.

But hey, even with all of the insecurities and bull we see every day, we know that if we stay positive, there’s a shot at a silver lining not too far away.