Saturday, 9 February 2013

Silver Linings Playbook ~ Oscar Watch


Each year I make a commitment to myself to watch all of the movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.

Of 2012's nominees, I failed and only saw two, even though I still want to watch the other ones.  The two I did see (The Help and The Descendants) were pretty good.

This year I really want to do this!  I'm trying to make time to find copies of these movies or go to the theatre and watch them there; it's hard with moving and trying to be thrifty.  So far I've seen Silver Linings Playbook and Les Miserables.

(You can read my review of Les Miserables here.  I watched it a few weeks ago and definitely consider it Oscar worthy.)

On Wednesday night this week Matt, my friend and I went to the see the late show of Silver Linings Playbook.  There were only two other couples in the theatre which was nice and we were able to laugh raucously and poke fun at the movie at times.

"Does Silver Linings Playbook truly deserve the Oscar nod?"  That was the question I was left asking myself after leaving the movie theatre.

At the beginning of the movie was are introduced to Bradley Cooper's character "Pat".

He's a different sort of fellow.  It quickly becomes apparent to the viewer that there's something a bit off about him.  He's likable enough but his bipolar disorder is very obvious.  The movie opens with him finishing up an eight month stint in a psychiatric hospital and he heads home with his mom who has bailed him out with certain rules laid down.

He must take his medications routinely and he must see a therapist.  The first night home he wakes his parents up at 4 in the morning, anxious to discuss how bad of a writer Hemingway was.  The disorder causes him to escalate rapidly in certain situations, especially when his wedding song is played.

As the movie plays out, we discover that Pat was betrayed by his wife when he found her in their shower with a co-worker.  The reason why he was institutionalised was his reaction: beating the man very severely.

One of the reasons why I enjoyed SLP so much was because of the supporting cast.  Pat's therapist Dr. Patel (played by Anupam Kher) delivers his lines with the perfect touch of dryness and yet ends up showing another unexpected and boisterous side of himself.

And of course, Robert De Niro does an amazing job portraying Pat's obsessive father who spends his life gambling on sports and playing the odds.

The tumultuous relationship between father and son is explored in a simple but beautiful manner.  De Niro does a fantastic job delivering his lines as a father who longs to be closer to his son but simply doesn't know where to begin.

Then the story truly develops when Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a recently widowed woman who is also dealing with her own personal craziness.

Lawrence is fantastic as she acts an overly dramatic character who is seeking, in her own way, to find answers and love.

As the movie unfolds (and I won't spoil any more for you), we get to watch the family relationships play out and I did feel a bit voyeuristic at times.  The camera work made conversations in the kitchen feel intimate.

The important lesson that I took with me from this movie was this message:  when we're with the wrong people, even the sanest person can become crazy.  As Pat elaborates on his previous marriage, he talks about how his wife was always unsatisfied with his appearance, his education and his habits.

Even for someone without a bipolar disorder, being married to the wrong person can literally be maddening! And even the strangest people can find happiness with the right person.  SLP does a heart breaking but also comedic job of showing us that.

Is it Oscar worthy though?

After much consideration, I would have to say no.  No, I don't think SLP will take home the Oscar.  Even though it is an enjoyable movie, it didn't blow me away.

(I think I'll be placing my bets on Lincoln, but I should probably watch it before I predict that!)

The biggest issue I had with SLP was the language.  There was no overt nudity, no sex scenes, no gratuitous amounts of violence, but there was a whole lot of cussing and swearing, which is probably what pushed it into the 14A category.  It's too bad, because I think movie could have hit the PG-13 audience well and the rating change wouldn't have required much change to the script.

However, if you can ignore the language, I think you will find Silver Linings Playbook to be an interesting and entertaining watch.

Let me know what you think!

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