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Silver Linings Playbook

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You may remember that I got diverted from this film a few weeks back (because it was sold out), so I went and saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey instead, which I already posted about.

What I've forgotten to do (until now) is to come back and tell you what I thought about the movie. If you don't care, that's perfectly fine - feel free to move along. But I figured I'd not only tell you about the movie, but about my conversation with 18-yo M about the movie. You see, she also read the book, and unlike most times when that occurs, she is of the opinion that the movie is far better.

I have always thought that Bradley Cooper was kind of cute, in a regular-guy-but-cute sort of way. He pulled off the charming-but-flip "Face" in the A-Team revamp really well, and is best known for his turns in The Hangover franchise. But this movie proves that he has superior acting chops, and his Oscar nomination is well-earned. Were it not Daniel Day Lewis's year to win All The Things, Bradley Cooper would give Hugh Jackman a run for his money as best actor. He plays a guy with bipolar disorder who starts the movie off his meds and obsessed with the idea of getting his wife back. (She has a restraining order against him, and it's pretty clear it's much-needed.) His personal progress throughout the course of the movie is well-done all around, with the reigned-in scenes being just as compelling (but nowhere near as mind-blowingly scary) as the more unhinged parts.

Jennifer Lawrence, last seen playing Katniss Everdeen in THE HUNGER GAMES, is amazing as a young widow with a reputation for sluttiness. (People work their way through grief in a lot of ways in this movie, as in life, and I guess that's part of the movie's appeal.) Her performance was ballsy and brittle and broken and completely perfect, and it's no wonder she's been winning Best Actress in the early award shows. Also, the chemistry between the two characters is undeniable, as is the chemistry between Cooper and his parents, played by Robert DeNiro (who is brilliant and earned that Supporting Actor nomination) and Jacki Weaver (also excellent and deserving of her nod as well).

Now, M had seen the movie before she went with me. And then she'd read the book, which had a couple of key differences. For one thing, the main character in the book is brain-injured, not bipolar - something she had to piece together over the course of the book, since he's the narrator. For another, the dance competition that you may have seen advertised (and which had me and much of the rest of the audience enthralled and in stitches), which takes place at the end of the film, is, according to M, a sort of minor event in the middle of the book. And the conclusion of the book, which is somewhat like the conclusion of the movie in the way the characters wind up, is much less purposeful and more shruggish (again, according to M).

She felt that the decision to change the character's issue to manic depression was a good one, and that the decision to have the dance competition be the end was brilliant. Based on her comments (which were much more detailed, but *spoiler spoiler spoiler*), I have to agree.

I am somewhat gobsmacked to report that I've seen several contenders for best film this year, which isn't always the case: ARGO (love it, and totally think Ben Affleck should've been nominated for Best Director), LES MISERABLES (liked it a lot, and Anne Hathaway should win Best Supporting Actress or there is no justice in this world), LINCOLN (amazingly good), and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (also amazingly good).

Interestingly, what has stuck with me most after the movies is the whole idea of ARGO, Anne Hathaway's performance as Fantine in LES MIS, and how completely remarkable Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (and the rest of the cast, really) were in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. Yeah, Daniel Day Lewis so completely inhabited Lincoln that it felt as if he was Lincoln and wasn't acting, but Bradley Cooper's damaged, beautiful performance is truly spectacular.

I'd be interested to hear what you think, if you've read the book. And, of course, what you think about the movie, if you've seen it.


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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
soniag
Feb. 2nd, 2013 08:02 pm (UTC)
Oooh, this was so interesting to read! Love the comparison of book to film.

Bradley Cooper's damaged, beautiful performance is truly spectacular.

I agree completely. His performance still haunts me.
kellyrfineman
Feb. 2nd, 2013 11:23 pm (UTC)
His performance still haunts me.
Same here, Sonia. That scene where he is full-on screaming about his wedding video is amazing (they showed it at the SAG awards), but it was some of the quieter but equally messed-up scenes that really showcased his talent.
literaticat
Feb. 2nd, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
I loved it - but interestingly, I didn't have any clear sense of what the movie was going to be about. Like... at all. Because IF I HAD KNOWN it was going to be DIRTY DANCING OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, I would have been first in line to see it. Instead I thought it was going to be about, like, football fans who are in a love-hate relationship. Or something. So I dragged my feet. And I was totally taken by surprise (in a good way) when it turned out so differently. Maybe that was the point, that the competition is supposed to be a surprise? I don't know.

Anyway THOUGH I think their marketing could have used a little pepper upper, whatever - I agree, smashing all around.
kellyrfineman
Feb. 2nd, 2013 11:29 pm (UTC)
DIRTY DANCING OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST would have been a great tagline. Sort of.

I loved that dancing scene. Which made me guffaw when they went for the lift, even before it went wrong since he looked like he was bracing for a tackle.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 8th, 2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
Movie not true to book
I'm sure your thinking, obviously the movie isn't the same as the book; but having read the book I'm disappointed by the movie. Let me start by saying I haven't seen the movie and here's why....

I only read the book because I heard the movie was great, and usually the book behind a great movie is, well, GREAT! So I read the book and really enjoyed it and then saw the movie trailer where Robert Dinero literally said more in the trailer than in the entire book. Furthermore, since in the book, the father's absent behavior was almost abusive to the mother and a big source of emptiness for the man character in the book; to make his character not only present, but loving, in the movie seems really....untrue. I may still see the movie, but was def disappointed by the change in the dads character.
kellyrfineman
Feb. 9th, 2013 04:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Movie not true to book
As I said, I didn't read the book - but I did love the movie. I think M's comment that they are very different is borne out by your remarks here. Maybe they each need to be judged independently?
(Anonymous)
Feb. 18th, 2013 04:54 am (UTC)
I liked it but ... that guy's not bipolar
We just saw the film and given that I'm still thinking about it, it was a decent movie. I found the characters engagaing, even if a bit unlikely.

The thing that bothered me — being bipolar myself and having grown up with a bipolar — is that Pat didn't seem even slightly so. There were some characteristics but ... I didn't see the cyclical torture, especially depression, that is characteristic of the disorder. Instead he was a guy with serious anger management issues and some other personality problems like the maniacal obsession with his wife. Maybe I'm missing something here, but if you think that's bipolar you don't know bipolar, and misleading impressions hurt people when it's a friend or family member or yourself in trouble.

I liked the film because of the characters/acting, and most of all the father-son (literal) combat. Very compelling. The mental illness stuff was an afterthought.
kellyrfineman
Feb. 19th, 2013 12:31 am (UTC)
Re: I liked it but ... that guy's not bipolar
Weirdly, the original book had Pat with a brain injury. The director, David O. Russell, worked on the screenplay himself in order to alter the character to have "undiagnosed bipolar" - a term that made no sense to me coming out of the mouth of an actual psychiatrist, by the way. In the many interviews he's been giving, he says he did it for his son, who is bipolar, so I would have presumed he'd have been better at getting it right, but I (like you) wondered about Pat's diagnosis, and that's without knowing all that much about it.
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