Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert de Niro, Jacki Weaver, Anupam Kher, Chris Tucker
Director: David O Russell
Indian Express Rating: ****
Amid the other much-talked-about Oscar contenders, Silver Linings Playbook has slowly caught up and picked up eight nominations -- including all four for acting (first time since Reds in 1981) and all the big five (best film, director, actor, actress, screenplay). It's easy to see what has caught the jury's imagination in this screwball comedy that knows just how to skillfully teeter on the edge of disaster -- quite like the state of its two main actors.
However, it isn't just Pat (Cooper) or Tiffany (Lawrence), undergoing therapy and on prescribed drugs, who have medical illness here. Each one of its cast is a bit off-kilter -- something, the film playfully suggests, could hold true of all of us. Pat's father Pat Sr (de Niro), a bookie, is obsessively compulsive about baseball games and superstitious about how he can ensure a win and money from them. He also has anger issues, and a fight he entered into means he can no longer go to stadiums to watch the game. Pat's friend Ronnie feels pressured by his controlling wife and takes it out by playing Mettalica and hitting things in his garage. Pat's brother is coldly proper, and another friend Pat made at the hospital where he was admitted (Chris Tucker) keeps running away finding loopholes in the law. His and Tiffany's neighbours take vicarious pleasure in their public breakdowns.
Tiffany herself suffered from depression after her husband's death and her behaviour after that has not just earned her society's disapproval but a medical condition requiring therapy and medicines.
Amid these harmless neurotic sorts, it's only Pat's long-suffering mother Dolores (Weaver) who holds it all together. And it's a class act from Weaver, the mother hen who senses all the undercurrents and hops around nervously ensuring there are no explosions. She seems dangerously vulnerable and yet the strong matriarch who can take it all in, who gets her son out of a mental institution against the wishes of doctors and without letting her husband know, because of the strength of her belief in and love for him.
It's how well the characters are etched, in white and grey and the varying shades in between, that makes the first half of Silver Linings Playbook, directed and written for the screen by David O Russell from a