Every year, when the Oscar nominations are first announced, there are a few surprises. No doubt, the nomination of SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK* for best picture was one such surprise.
Several years ago, there was a sudden flurry of independent films--and while SILVER LININGS may not be an independent--it has that kind of feel. I really enjoy indie films. Rather than use (or overuse) special effects, violence, mayhem and absurd story lines, indies draw their strength from character development and credible plot lines.
I am thinking about movies such as LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE (nominated for Best Picture in 2006), or LOVELY AND AMAZING (2001) or THE SUNSHINE STATE (2002). On a recent plane trip, I rewatched IN AMERICA (2002). I loved it again--having forgotten how touching and sweet it is.
I itemize these movies because that is the kind of movie that really appeals to me. Despite that, I was at first reluctant to go and see SILVER LININGS . I tend to do advance research before going to see a movie--if it is historically based, I might brush up on the historical context. I certainly read reviews, and check out the tomato meter.
So when I read the plot summary for SILVER LININGS , I hesitated. It sounded confusing, even potentially screwed up. But then I checked the tomato meter--hmmmm 92%. Well, OK, let's give it a try.
I am so glad we did. In the movie, we meet Pat Soltano (Bradley Cooper) whose life has come apart. Actually, he is the one who pulled it apart--he lost his wife, his job, and is in a state institution (mental? penal? both?) as the movie opens. Soon, his mother bails him out, giving him a chance to put his life back together. He has no place to go, so he is back with his parents living in his boyhood bedroom. Not an auspicious beginning. His sole goal at this point is to get back in the good graces of his estranged wife.
Along the way, he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who has as many problems as Pat does. Slowly a relationship of sorts develops. Tiffany also has a goal--to participate in a dance contest but she lacks a partner. Through some maneuverings, she cajoles Pat into being her partner.
OK--enough plot. I should add that the movie is set in Philadelphia, and being an Eagles' fan is a prominent part of the plot--Pat's father (Robert De Niro) is a die-hard fan. But, as I said, enough plot.
A quick word on the acting--I had not seen Bradley Cooper in a role before (or seen him in any other way) but I am now a fan, especially if he keeps playing roles such as Pat. As for Jennifer Lawrence, we first saw her in WINTER'S BONE (oh, another indie--2010) and were absolutely blown away with her performance in that movie.
So see SILVER LININGS . I hope you will be as charmed as I am.
*From here on out, I will just say SILVER LININGS .