Reviews May Contain Minor Spoilers

If you're reading a review you should expect to hear some spoilers. I try to keep them to a minimum though.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Silver Linings Playbook

Well, I promised a non-nine, but this isn't the movie I was thinking of...

Silver Linings Playbook (2012) is a dysfunctional romantic comedy that has just the right amount of quirk to get the Academy's attention.

Pat is a bipolar guy, recently released from a mental institution, who has two goals: get his emotions under control and get his wife back. He was committed after beating the man he found having sex with his wife in the shower. Pat moves back in with his parents, but has a long way to go before he turns his life around. To try and help, his friend and the friend's wife introduce Pat to her sister, Tiffany. Tiffany recently lost her husband and suffers from severe depression. Can they overcome their issues together?

This film begins with Pat's life a the mental institution and takes a while before it even gives the flashback about why he's there. Little point of view things, like this wouldn't, be a problem if they remained tightly focused on him. However; Tiffany isn't even introduced until about a quarter of the way into the movie and her problems become equally as big an issue at Pat's. I think this movie might have benefited from a more equal portrayal of their lives.

Our Tragic Heroes
Pat is a slave to his emotions and cannot handle the stress that his expectation bring him. That said, unlike several movies that portray mentally unbalanced protagonists, he is actually a likeable guy who seems capable of growing beyond his numerous flaws. The fact that this movie centers not only on his romance with Tiffany, but his relationships with his father, mother and older brother, really help to fully realize the character and the reasons behind his problems. We get about two scenes with the ex-wife and she's not a major character, which really helps the audience focus on him and his perception of her.
Tiffany has serious issues with her depression that lead her into short shallow physical relationships to fill the void in her life. She quickly latches onto Pat as he is not out to use her like many others in her life. She has a passion for dancing and needs a serious partner to accomplish her goals.The build-up and obvious instability, yet desire to get something right is primarily portrayed through looks and simple actions, though when she explodes, things get messy. This performance is certainly worthy of the Oscar that is seems likely to land actress Jennifer Lawrence.

Crazy Observers
Pat's family is almost as crazy as he is. His father has lost the family restaurant and taken to bookmaking to keep things afloat. His mother is overly protective and unwilling to see how unhinged much of their lives have become. Pat's brother just seems to want to keep his head low and get through things. The relationship with his father is what brings in the sports part of the film. His father is an Eagles fan and feels that watching the game with his son is good luck.So, when Tiffany threatens to drag them apart, conflict ensues. Fortunately, this plot moves beyond that stupid setup into something much more fun and inventive.

Pat's friends are almost much lost causes as he is. Danny is a mental patient with a propensity for trying to escape the institution. He ends up becoming more of a strange wise man, but brings a lot of fun and humor into this darker rom-com. This is also a surprisingly restrained performance by Chris Tucker, I didn't even recognize him for about half the move. Pat's other friend Ronnie is in a struggling marriage with Tiffany's sister. Both these characters allow Pat to get away from the drama and show us that he really is a nice guy at heart.

Suburban Atmosphere
The true genius of this film lies in how crazy it makes the everyday. Almost everyone in this has something wrong with them. The fact that most of this film is set in suburban houses, diners and bars bring it home even more. We're all crazy, some of us more than others. I also like the idea of trying to feel and realize other people's pain. Empathy is an emotion that really needs to be brought back into the forefront of our society.

In the End
The end slips back into more typical rom-com fluffiness, but it remains hard to knock it. This film takes so many other routes at subverting the genre. This is the modern equivalent of a screwball comedy where the screwiness actually is a mental disorder, but I think I just upset some people by even mentioning that. Suffice it to say, I laughed, I didn't quite cry, but I definitely enjoyed it.

Is this the date movie that will finally bring together sports lovers and Dancing with the Stars fans? Actually, it just might, and manages the whole thing effortlessly. I can't quite call it great, but it was very charming and amusing. The ensemble cast brought out the best in each other and the material. See it with someone you love.

Tomorrow, (also known as when I wake up since I'm back dating these) I dive into one of my favorite genres.

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