Silver Linings Playbook has some fine performances (Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro) but they can’t elevate the preposterous underlying material. If you can believe that a manic son of an OCD dad would enter into dance competition with a depressed widow and somehow that’s tied to a bet on a Philadelphia Eagles football game, you will be better equipped than I was to enjoy this romantic-comedy-drama-human-animal-hybrid.
I found it light on the romance, the comedy and the drama. From all the buzz I hear, ace director David O. Russell (who also adapted the screenplay from a book by Matthew Quick) may be nominated in categories like Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Director. Spanking the Monkey, Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings, I [Heart] Huckabees, The Fighter — and this is his big contender? (And yes, The Fighter was rightly nominated last year.) Playbook is O. Russell’s weakest outing, in my humble opinion — although if people are buying this most-random-Chris-Tucker-cameo-ever vehicle, maybe I should reconsider. Like, for example: Tell me why the stereotypical Indian therapist keeps showing up in random scenes?
I will, however, be quite pleased if the central performances get nominated. This is a career turning point for Cooper and Lawrence, who have guaranteed they will be taken more seriously as actors. And Bobby D, well, wow. He captures exactly the superstitious sports fan persona. I know people like this… up to a point. I don’t know any serious gamblers who would stake their entire fortunes over something that they haven’t researched, but here I keep coming back to the plot of the film. Maybe if the world had been less grounded in reality, or more grounded? The tone Russell strikes here is far enough from gritty to have low stakes, but too far from wacky to be laugh-out-loud funny. I left the screening as deflated as an old football.
Other people are enjoying — raving — about this movie, and for more than the performances. I’m baffled. To me, is was disappointingly true to its title: a bad schematic (the story) with a silver lining (the acting).