19 Feb 2013

Silver linings playbook

My new year’s resolution was to watch more movies, and sooner. What I needed to add to that and what I shall do as an addendum is to blog more promptly.  Because while I am watching more films and more promptly, I bloody well need to blog about them!
What a noonah head. 
 Silver linings play book is written and directed by David Russell, based from a book by Matthew Quick. This film was an important project to Russell, and also to supporting actor Robert DeNiro, as both have close family members with mental health issues.  Yes this is a comedy about mental health, but if you are expecting the latest drivel from the Farrelly brothers, this is not the movie for you. 
I have friends who have family members with mental health issues; I have friends with mental health issues.  I have seen how hard it can be for people dealing with issues of mental health.  While I don’t think it is necessary to broadcast these things to the world, I also feel it is important to at least acknowledge it. So many people just refuse to talk about it.  “We don’t discuss that” a friend of mine said nervously to me when I asked after a mutual friend’s health.  But if people evade the issue, then how can people feel comfortable expressing themselves if they want to?  If you have a friend like this they need to know that you are there for them. You don’t have to be a drippy hippy about it, and constantly ask about their bloody feelings, but you shouldn’t pretend it isn’t there either.  
These particular friends in my life I referred to are strong, funny; great people and they are my friends for those reasons and a multitude of other reasons. 
Those friends would also tell me to get on with a bloody synopsis:
 Pat (Bradley Cooper) suffers from mental health issues, most prominently bipolar disorder. He has been recently institutionalised as part of an agreement with the courts after he almost beat his wife’s lover to death.  As at the time of the attack his mental health issues were undiagnosed, so the courts settled for treatment instead of jail . Now he is out, he is healthy and he is determined to get his wife back.  All that stands in his way is a restraining order.   

While having dinner with his best friend Ronnie he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), Ronnie’s sister in law.  Tiffany’s husband recently died and she has several issues of her own.  Tiffany and Pat circle each other wearily until Pats therapist suggests that by helping Tiffany, Pat could prove to the world, and his wife that he has changed. Pat tentatively starts a friendship with Tiffany, and she promises to help him win back his wife, if he helps her with a dance competition. 
Ensue…., well  hijinx. 
In reading this synopsis it reads like any other romantic comedy, but while being a romantic comedy it is anything but typical. 
Cooper is prominent in his career for playing handsome leading men, but here he is manic, bruised and, well human . His portrayal as the sufferer of bipolar is at times funny, sad, and inspiring.  His relationship with his father  (De Niro) is troubled, enlightening and painful. This is De Niro’s  the best performance in years, as the ageing troubled father with possible disorders of his own.  

 Jennifer Lawrence always seems so young to me, but in every film I have seen her in I think she has been great. She definitely deserves all her recent awards.  The real surprise is Chris Tucker. Now I really do not like Tucker at all. His past roles as a destitute man’s Eddie Murphy, have left me cold. But as Pats friend Danny he met at during his stint at the hospital, Tucker gives a warm sympathetic performance. I hate to say it but he was excellent. A long time coming but he really was.

The story, if I wrote it all out for you would follow as I said a typical rom com, but the execution by Cooper Lawrence, De Niro and Jaki Weaver (who plays Pats mother), takes you to a different place.  It was an important work for the director as I said, as his own son is bipolar, and this film was to show that people like his son can have important stories too, and not just as comic relief.  It is an intelligent and at times painful rendition of the romantic comedy, but retains its romance and its integrity without falling to trite gimmicks or cheesy gags. 
Sometimes films are given accolades, Oscars, Baftas, etc out of a sort of obligation., but this film stands on its own and is deserving of recognition. I found it surprising, and quietly wonderful.
Seven and a half monkeys from me.

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