Can Bipolar Disorder Lead to Love and Laughs?
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012/IN THEATERS) The answer to the question above is a big Yes! Especially if the bipolar disorder victim is Bradley Cooper as Pat Solitano Jr. in David O. Russell’s “neurotic screwball comedy” which also stars a fabulous Jennifer Lawrence. The storyline goes like this: after an 8 month stint in a mental institution, Pat Solitano Jr. (Cooper), a former teacher, moves back in with his parents (played to perfection by Robert DeNiro and Jackie Weaver) and strives to regain the life he lost. His method? He’s looking for his “silver linings.” More than anything else, Pat Jr. wants to restore his marriage and he’s definitely got an uphill challenge there, since his wife Nikki has filed a restraining order on him. Pat is nothing if not determined and has adopted as his mantra the word “excelsior!” complete with the exclamation mark. Crazy! Invited to dinner by his friend Ronnie (John Ortiz) and his wife Veronica (Julia Stiles), Pat meets Veronica’s sister Tiffany (Lawrence), a young woman with her own problems following the accidental death of her young policeman husband. Tiffany offers Pat a way to contact Nikki, but she has her price—he must dance with her in a fancy ballroom competition coming up at the holidays. Pat agrees and this quirky film kicks into gear. All works well, thanks in equal parts to the fabulous cast of supporting characters who inhabit the Solitano world and also to the screenplay by David O. Russell (inspired by the book written by Matthew Quick). And did I mention that Chris Tucker is in this flick? He’s Pat Jr.’s mental buddy Danny and whenever he appears, the laughs are not far behind. The film has already won the People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival—and remember that Slumdog Millionaire won that very award and went on to take the Oscar. The movie is also up for 5 Independent Spirit Awards including Best Director, Best Feature, Best Screenplay, and Best Lead Actor and Actress for Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. While I don’t see a Best Picture Oscar in the cards this year (too much competition), I’m definitely placing my bets on Lawrence for something—she deserves any win coming her way. And I’m also hoping for some well-deserved recognition in the Supporting Actor ranks for Robert DeNiro who gives his best performance in years. Well worth seeing and a great follow up to David O. Russell’s excellent film of two years ago, “The Fighter”—this time with a lighter touch. Enjoy.