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Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Score:A+

Director:David O. Russell

Cast:Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert de Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker

Running Time:122 Minutes

Rated:R

Can a movie really have it all? Silver
Linings Playbook proves you can and may just be the best movie of the year.
Though some were surprised it beat out Argo
for the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, it's not
hard to see why people are flipping for this romantic comedy.

Romantic comedies tend to get a bad rap because so many of the ones
that get released are terrible. But when they're done right (When Harry Met Sally, Bridget Jones's Diary, Waitress), they're among the best movies
around. Silver Linings Playbook does
it right, giving us the story of two fascinating characters who have genuine
chemistry.

Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a bipolar teacher who's finally being
released from a mental health facility after a violent breakdown. He goes to
live with his parents (De Niro and Weaver) who are ill equipped to deal with
his illness. The day-to-day he experiences on the outside help the audience
understand just how deep Pat's illness and positivity run. The great characters
that populate this Philadelphia neighborhood make it the most fully realized
setting of any movie this year.

Everything feels completely authentic in this movie, even the
relationship at its core. During an awkward dinner, Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer
Lawrence), the young widow of one of his old buddies. They're instantly
attracted to each other not by physical appearance but by their shared
intolerance for formality and B.S. It's so refreshing to see a relationship
develop this way as opposed to the pure sexual ferocity that so dominates most
movies.

But Pat remains fiercely (maybe even unreasonably) devoted to his
estranged wife.  So that means
everything develops at a leisurely pace, which allows more time for us to be
completely immersed and get to know this family, neighborhood and culture. Just
like David O. Russell's last movie The
Fighter, you feel you know nearly every character intimately.

Silver Linings Playbook also
features two great performances, one from a veteran actor who hasn't made
anything substantial in the last decade and one from an actor who only shows up
to mug.

The former is Robert De Niro as Pat's dad, an obsessed Philadelphia
Eagles fan who, like most men his age, has trouble showing emotion. In a lesser
film, his arc would come off as trite and overdone. But thanks to De Niro's
devotion to the role and Russell's direction, he's turning in another highlight
in a career full of them.

The latter is Chris Tucker, who has rarely acted outside the Rush Hour franchise and gave what was
likely the most annoying performance of all time in The Fifth Element. But here, in his few scenes as a fellow patient
and friend of Pat, he's something of a revelation. Who knew he had such grace
and depth hiding behind all those loud antics?

Silver Linings Playbook takes
the audience through the emotional wringer but sends them out of the theater on
a high note. It will remove every last ounce of cynicism from your bones and
leave you, like Pat, always looking for that silver lining.

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About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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