Monday, December 24, 2012

"Silver Linings Playbook"

First things first - even though her career is quite young, I have complete confidence in saying that Jennifer Lawrence is going to be one of the great film stars of our lifetime.  As good as everyone else is in "Silver Linings Playbook" - and they're all very good, from Bradley Cooper to Robert DeNiro to Chris Tucker and everyone else - it is Lawrence's charisma and chops that raise the movie to a level that it might not otherwise have found.  She's that good, and I can understand why director David O. Russell had no qualms about casting a 22-year old in a part that, in the book, was closer to the 40-year range.

The trailers and advertisements do their best to portray this as a romantic comedy, and I suppose it is - but that pigeon-hole hardly does it justice.  The movie has its funny parts, and its romantic parts, but they come well earned - for the most part, "Silver Linings Playbook" skirts along the edges of "Ordinary People" territory, with its realistic and respectful treatment of characters who are far from perfect and in some cases wear their flaws like a badge of honor.

A few words about Bradley Cooper, who to date has established himself as someone who can credibly pull off light-hearted comedy and action fare, movies like "The Hangover" and "Limitless."  Well, this is a role that requires some serious chops - Cooper is one of the movie's two focal points, and is in almost every scene - and he pulls if off with aplomb, achieving what one critic has called "Category 4 Clooney."  This role should open up all kinds of opportunities for him.

And of course, a few words about Robert DeNiro, who does nothing less than remind everyone that yes, he is one of the great actors of his generation.  He's great in the role as a flawed, quirky and somewhat over-protective father, and is funny to boot.  If he spends the rest of his career in roles like this, he may end up as beloved as he is respected.

The movie does have an ending somewhat reminiscent of "Rocky," but as noted earlier, it earns the sentiment that it displays in two wonderful scenes, one with Cooper and DeNiro and the other the climactic scene with Cooper and Lawrence - the scene where they finally figure out what each other is about.

Very, very strong work - and nicely done.

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