Yesterday Thought Catalog‘s Brian Donovan posted an unusually perceptive, nicely phrased appreciation of Silver Linings Playbook, although it’s mainly a reiteration of what everyone (including Sasha Stone) has been saying from the get-go, which is that the film is almost entirely about Jennifer Lawrence‘s spunk.
Haters can say whatever they want but any hate-for-hate’s-sake Captain Ahab posts will be immediately killed…just saying. Here’s an excerpt:
“What makes it all work, what turns Silver Linings into the kind of movie you see once and immediately want to see again, is that despite being about sadness, the movie is never actually sad. Actually, it’s hilarious. It took me three viewings to figure out how they did it, and I think this is the secret: all the characters care. They’re passionate, mostly about achieving happiness, and so they try, despite every limitation and stroke of bad luck, to change. They usually fail, but they always try.
“So really, it’s not a film about mental illness, but a movie about people who want to get better. And who of us can not identify with that?
“You know that feeling when you’re standing at the bar, desperately wanting to talk to the guy or girl next to you, but are unable to force yourself to do it? Or staring at your gym clothes knowing that you’d ultimately be happier if you worked out, but your mind just won’t let it happen? That’s the world that this movie explores, in a simplistic sense. Obviously being bipolar is a lot more complicated and serious than being lazy, but for those who haven’t been around mental illness, that’s one way to understand it. No matter how badly you want your mind to cooperate, to do something that you know is for the best, sometimes it just won’t allow it.
“Every scene between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence crackles with that conflict. They’re drawn to each other, it’s clear. They have too much in common, are too able to help each other not to fit, but Cooper just can’t let it be. You can see, over and over again, his mind standing in the way. Too obsessed with his pointless past to let a happy future in. The character’s motto is ‘Excelsior.’ Rise above. Improve. Excel. But he can’t ever pull it off. No matter how badly he wants to avoid a fight at a football game, he ends up with a fist in someone’s face. He clearly loves his Dad, but won’t let himself get close to him. And Lawrence, who’s so obviously his salvation, he dismisses as long as he possibly can.
“And when the movie takes off, the scene where it becomes irresistible, is when Lawrence says ‘Fuck this, I’m taking over, I’m fixing everything right now.’
“Without giving too much away, I’ll say this. There comes a moment two-thirds of the way through the film when all is lost. Cooper’s father, Robert DeNiro, is on the verge of a gambling catastrophe, Cooper seems to finally grasp that his marriage is over, and then Lawrence gives them all a way out. She has an argument with DeNiro’s character, and she owns it. An actor almost 50 years older than her, with two Oscars and a slew more nominations, who’s also, you know, Robert Fucking DeNiro, and I swear to God she acts him under the table.
“It’s amazing. She pulls the family (and the movie) together in two minutes, and sets us up for an outstanding third act. It’s like she’s speaking to all the craziness in the room, everyone’s collective insanity, and saying ‘No, we are all going to do better.’ And miraculously, somehow, they all do. It’s great writing, of course. But without out a dynamo like Lawrence you’d never buy it. I’m glad they got her, because it leads to a finale so good I can stop smiling just thinking about it.”