‘Silver Linings’ charm shines through

Six years have passed since an excellent film, featuring both comedy and drama, has graced the screens of our movie theaters. Nothing has matched “Little Miss Sunshine’s” wit, charm and heart until “Silver Linings Playbook.”

The films’ similarities are apparent considering they feature actors at the top of their game, a family an audience can root for, and an ending with a dance shrouded in humorous immorality.

“Silver Linings Playbook” is the story of former teacher Pat Solitano who finds himself back with his parents after his time in a mental institution. Pat’s world is turned upside down when he encounters an initially problematic woman, Tiffany.

Jennifer Lawrence has been sweeping award shows recently in her role as Tiffany, the twisted love interest of Bradley Cooper’s Pat, but she’s only one of many who successfully pull an audience in. Robert De Niro has had a slew of bad films in recent years, but “Silver Linings Playbook” proves to audiences why he is regarded as one of America’s best film actors.

Cooper as Pat Solitano should certainly not be forgotten. Cooper brings to life a character that is twisted, but still likable. His portrayal of mental illness, an example not often seen on screen, is one of the best in film history.

In film, writers and directors often go to the extreme when telling a story of mental illness, but director David O. Russell chooses to not follow and leads by example by focusing on how a family can deal with this unfortunate illness.

Russell, who is becoming a modern auteur, as writer and director has constructed an account of mental illness inspired by his son’s personal struggles. This connection to the original novel by Matthew Quick is always present in the movie, because Russell builds a setting that any family can latch onto whether mental illness is present in their families.

With the help of cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi, Russell creates a wholly naturalistic Philadelphia home that is tight yet welcoming. Each scene uses natural lighting and simple shots, but when strung together the film is anything but simple. “Silver Linings Playbook” is a story of love, loss, pain and the negative implications we face as a society that continues to struggle with mental illness.

This is entirely apparent as the audience receives glimpses of Pat’s pained past. The director gives us a glimpse into the mind of a person with bipolar disorder, but what we see is not different than what we experience day to day if we to have had a painful past.

The message pierced into this film is not to take your medication. “Silver Linings Playbook” is about how all of us, whether we are affected by mental illness or not, finding those moments that make us feel complete and remarkable.

The same is true for “Little Miss Sunshine”; when Abigail Breslin in “Little Miss Sunshine” and Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook” dance on screen, there is something inherently immoral about the circumstances, but an audience will not be able to stop from smiling when either family finds their silver lining.

Patrick White

Movie fan Patrick White doesn't spare anyone's feelings when deciding if the latest Hollywood offering is trash or treasure. Catch his reviews on the latest theater and DVD releases in Saturday's paper.

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