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Silver Linings Playbook(2012)
A former high school history teacher gets out of a mental hospital and is placed in the care of his mother. His goal is to win back his ex wife. But he winds up in a romance with a kooky neighbor who also has mental problems.
For more about Silver Linings Playbook and the Silver Linings Playbook Blu-ray release, see Silver Linings Playbook Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on April 19, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence (III), Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker, Shea Whigham
Director: David O. Russell
» See full cast & crew
Silver Linings Playbook Blu-ray Review
Crazy is as crazy does.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, April 19, 2013
Medical science has made amazing, almost miraculous, progress over the past century or so, and yet the mysteries of mental illness are still largely baffling even to those who spend their professional careers researching them. We live in an era of pharmacological overkill, where syndromes are seemingly invented just so they can be treated with drugs, something not necessarily limited to mental disorders but which has become the latest in a long line of psychiatric techniques that seem to be revisited every couple of decades or so, with previous techniques being discarded as barbarian and whatever the new wonder treatment of the moment is being hailed as the ultimate cure all that mental health professionals have been searching for for so long. And yet no one really seems to completely comprehend what causes various mental illnesses, perhaps one of the most salient reasons that many don't know quite how to treat them. One of the things that makes Silver Linings Playbook so viscerally entertaining is that it doesn't dwell on the causes of mental illness, delving instead into the behaviors of several characters who are labeled with a garden variety of syndromes including OCD, Bipolar and Depression. The film is notable for being one of the oddest quasi-romantic comedies to come down the pike in quite a while, one colored with outbursts of shocking violence that just as quickly subside into weird moments of domestic dysfunction as well as awkward attempts at making relatively normal human connections. Both Matthew Quick, the author of the source novel which inspired the film, as well as David O. Russell, who adapted the novel for film and directed as well, have histories with depression and mental illness, either personally or by dint of close relatives being sufferers.
The film begins with Pat Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper) reciting a monologue that he seems to have rehearsed a lot, and while the context isn't immediately clear, it's obvious that Pat is in the throes of some sort of relationship turmoil. It soon is revealed that Pat is actually a patient at a Baltimore psychiatric institution, though his mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) has just shown up to sign him out of the facility after eight months. The doctors at the place aren't completely convinced that Pat is ready to matriculate back into civilian life, but Pat's mom won't take "no" for an answer. As she starts to drive Pat away, another patient named Danny (Chris Tucker) is waiting in the parking lot for a ride, and Pat convinces his mom to let his buddy ride along. In a none too surprising turn of events, Dolores gets a phone call from the institution alerting her to the fact that Danny is in fact an escapee, at which point Dolores questions whether she should have come to "spring" Pat out at all. Danny agrees to return, but urges Dolores to let Pat stay free, assuring her that Pat is cured of whatever mysterious ailment plagued him previously. And so Dolores and Pat head off to their middle class Philadelphia home.
Pat's home life is odd, to say the least. One of the chief strands of current psychiatric thinking is that many mental illnesses have at least a partly genetic component, and it's obvious that Pat, Jr. has a case to be made in that regard, for his father Patrizio (Robert De Niro) is a poster child for obsessive compulsive disorder. Patrizio (Pat Sr.) is a football addict who is convinced that only a rote series of behaviors will result in his beloved Philadelphia Eagles winning their games. These "requirements" include exact positioning of the television remotes and most importantly Pat Jr.'s viewership, since Pat Sr. has concluded that his son is a good luck charm of sorts. Pat Jr. had long acceded to his father's weird demands, but now that he's out of the institution he has only one goal on his mind: reuniting with his estranged wife Nikki. That instantly puts him at odds with his father, and in a way his mother as well, for Sunday football game watching has been a Solitano family tradition for years, a community building exercise that has created some of the family's fondest communal memories.
Pat has another, perhaps more reasonable, requirement in his life, namely to attend regular therapy sessions, and in it's his first meeting with his new therapist Dr. Patel (Anupam Kher) that finally gives us our first real insight into what's going on in Pat's muddled mind. The Muzak playing in the good doctor's lobby sends Pat into a sudden rage, and it turns out that the doctor had played it intentionally to see if it was still a "trigger" for Pat's violent tendencies (this is one of the film's few questionable plot devices). It turns out that the event that ended up getting Pat put away for eight months involved Pat coming home unexpectedly and finding his wife Nikki in an assignation with a history teacher at the local school where Nikki and Pat also taught. The two were cavorting to the strains of Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour", which had been the wedding song for Pat and Nikki, something which sent Pat into an unbridled rage, resulting in him pummeling the man romancing his wife, almost killing him.
Pat attempts to reconnect to various people in his neighborhood, including a teacher at the school where he used to teach, leading to some comic interchanges. But Pat also reconnects with a longtime buddy named Ronnie (John Ortiz) who is married to Veronica (Julia Stiles), a woman who is one of Nikki's closest friends. While Veronica doesn't hide her inherent dislike for Pat, she relents enough to invite him over for dinner, at which point Pat is introduced to Veronica's little sister Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a woman with emotional troubles of her own stemming from the unexpected death of her husband Tommy, a Philadelphia policeman. Pat and Tiffany make for an instant odd couple. Pat has no filtering capability and spouts one inappropriate thing after another, while Tiffany exhibits a similar inability to curtail her roiling inner life and tends to cut right to chase, delivering scathing assessments of everyone she sees.
The second act of the film details the growing relationship between Pat and Tiffany. Halting, weird and bizarrely affecting, Russell's screenplay makes the most of the wounded aspects of both of these characters. Tiffany's directness catches Pat completely off guard, but at the same time, Tiffany senses a genuine decency in Pat that she can't deny. There are a number of subplots that unspool simultaneously in this section, including a frightening manic episode that Pat suffers, as well as Tiffany's revelations about her own mental instabilities tied to the death of her husband. The film becomes completely strange (although lovably so) when Tiffany offers to get a letter from Pat to Nikki (something which would violate Nikki's restraining order) if Pat will be her partner in a dance contest that Nikki wants to perform in. What an odd but oddly endearing turn of events.
The film tends to stumble somewhat in its overly contrived final act. Pat Sr., who has lost his job, has taken to bookmaking to bring in some much needed moolah, and he has made some unwise bets on various Eagles games in order to bring in enough scratch to start a restaurant. Pat Jr. finds himself torn between helping Tiffany (in order to reconnect with Nikki) and his father, as his father is desperate to have Pat's involvement in various games in order to insure a victory. In a cartwheeling series of events, Pat Sr. ends up getting into a "double bet" where the Eagles must win a game and Pat Jr. and Tiffany must achieve a decent score in the dance contest in order for Pat Sr. to reclaim a stack of money he's lost to a betting buddy of his. These elements, along with some increasing melodrama between Pat and Tiffany, make things rather wildly improbable and perhaps detract, if only slightly, from the film's momentum (the inclusion of Pat's therapist in a wild scene at the Solitano home after a brouhaha at an Eagles game pushes the film into pretty dangerous territory from a suspension of disbelief vantage point).
Despite some occasional stumbles and some unanswered questions (did Tiffany ever deliver the letter to Nikki?; is Pat really staying on antipsychotic meds?; were a couple of characters actually colluding, as is hinted at in a late scene?), Silver Linings Playbook is a hugely enjoyable film, one with a deliberately skewed sense of humor which may shock some people, but which delivers some really hearty laughs along the way. The performances by Cooper and Lawrence have been rightfully lauded. Lawrence, whom I singled out years ago as a breakout star in Winter's Bone, correctly predicting she'd snare an Oscar nomination for that role, becomes a force to be reckoned with in this role. She's funny, sad, vulnerable, tough as nails—sometimes all within the same scene. Cooper is undeniably winning in an equally diverse role. Pat is obviously a well meaning individual struggling with some major demons. The character's ardent wish for a storybook happy ending may not be realistic (something the film itself gives into, despite its allusions to grittier, less sanguine, works like the novels of Ernest Hemingway), but it's a universal desire that virtually everyone can relate to, even if they don't suffer from any ostensible emotional difficulties.
Silver Linings Playbook Blu-ray, Video Quality
Silver Linings Playbook is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Starz and Anchor Bay with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1. Director David O. Russell and cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi favor a quasi-verité approach here, with lots of handheld camera work, some of which favors the so-called "jiggly cam" approach. A lot of the film appears to have utilized natural lighting schemes, resulting in a really nice autumnal glow in several of the exterior location sequences, but also casting a somewhat dark ambience on dimly lit interior scenes. Fine detail is exceptional throughout the vast majority of this presentation, with some of the close-ups reaching really astounding levels of detail at times (look at the screenshot of Cooper's hand holding the pills for a great example). There's more evident softness in some of the midrange shots, but even those pop with abundantly saturated colors and excellent overall detail. The film and supplements are housed on a BD-50, so there are no compression artifacts of any import to report, and there doesn't appear to have been any overtly aggressive digital tweaking done here at all.
Silver Linings Playbook Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Silver Linings Playbook's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is very well done, but some of the surround activity is rather subtle, although noticeable if one pays close attention. While the boisterous crowd scenes, like the tailgate party late in the film, the big dance sequence and a couple of the scenes in the Solitano household, feature excellent discrete channelization. The ubiquitous source cues also spill through the surrounds with vividness. There are also smart effects with regard to the song that Pat isn't quite sure if he's actually hearing or not. Dialogue is very cleanly presented, though the film has a rather Howard Hawksian aspect with a lot of simultaneously delivered dialogue. Fidelity is excellent and dynamic range is relatively wide for this type of film.
Silver Linings Playbook Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Silver Linings Playbook Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Silver Linings Playbook is a nearly perfect entertainment. The film is a bit too sanguine and facile in its endgame, but otherwise this is a superbly entertaining outing featuring unforgettable characters and some riveting performances. Director David O. Russell does a mostly flawless job here, though he occasionally resorts to clichés (do we really need a camera circling a couple engaging in their first kiss?). These are niggling qualms, however, for the film is so viscerally engaging that any missteps are easily forgivable. With superior video and audio as well as good supplementary materials, Silver Linings Playbook easily comes Highly recommended.
Silver Linings Playbook: Other Editions
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Silver Linings Playbook Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, April 29-May 5: Silver Linings Playbook Stumbles t... - May 9, 2013
For the week that ended on May 5th, Anchor Bay and the Weinstein Company's Silver Linings Playbook debuted at number one on the Blu-ray and overall package media lists. This Academy Award-winning romantic-comedy - it netted a Best Actress Oscar for Jennifer Lawrence's ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: April 30-May 7 - April 28, 2013
For the week of April 30th, Anchor Bay Home Entertainment is bringing Silver Linings Playbook to Blu-ray. This comedy-drama found success with its portrait of two unstable outcasts who realize that they might be soul mates; director David O. Russell's direction ...
• Silver Linings Playbook Blu-ray - March 20, 2013
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment and The Weinstein Company have officially announced that they will release on Blu-ray David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook (2012), starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro. The release will be available ...
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