If Silver Linings Playbook wasn’t so widely accepted at this year’s Oscars as the ‘quirky indie feature’, I would feel less vitriol towards the movie. However, because every relevant category had a nomination for Playbook, it is firmly in the line of fire and will bear the brunt of a cinephile scorned. That’s not to say that this film doesn’t have its positives, but for me they are few and far between.
Silver Linings Playbook was one of the most insufferable movies through which I have ever had the displeasure of sitting. This tale of mental illness, a subject that has been executed so engagingly in movies like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Misery and Black Swan, resorts to lowest common denominator romance tactics to round off its contrived and self-indulgent story.
Bradley Cooper is completely unbelievable in his role as Pat, a man recently released from institutionalisation after suffering the mental anguish of a cheating wife and failed marriage. I don’t feel his acting is bad, but it never feels as if he is really enveloped in his character. When up against Jennifer Lawrence you can see the gulf in talent between the two leads, and it is insane that he was acknowledged as a best actor at the Oscars. Lawrence, one of the shining lights of the movie, puts in a much more believable turn as a similarly troubled character, but there is no point in this movie where the audience is left wondering how it is going to end between the two. One could use the excuse of ‘well it’s a rom-com so you’re not the target market’, but if you dress up your film as an indie, brainy comedy, then false, I am the target market.
The runtime was the biggest issue I had with the movie. For the first 45 minutes I was bored. It felt is if David O’Russell was just jerking off in our faces with repeated scenes and unnecessary character development. In the industry there is a term ‘shoe leather’, which is the act of showing meaningless actions before key scenes; shots of peoples’ shoes walking down streets, keys going into locks, people opening doors, paying for coffee, that kind of thing. It’s all the fluff that adds onto the runtime but could easily be edited out of the movie. Well Silver Linings Playbook has about 45 mins of this in the movie, but it’s meaningless nothing of people talking. Yes, it’s a movie about bi polar disorder, and yes, to show that on screen you have to have scenes in clinics, etc, but the amount we had to endure was a complete turn off from the characters, and from this I never recovered. The middle section does pick up and I was glad I didn’t turn it off I think (which I was close to doing). At this point, after a rollercoaster of ‘I hate this movie/oh, it’s OK now’, when the “payoff” happened at the end, I just wanted to punch myself in the face for agreeing to watch this film, then scorn every single Oscar committee member in the face for putting this film on such a pedestal.
To be honest, I can see why some people like the movie. Well done the Weinstein’s for conning the world into thinking this was anything other than a bog-standard rom-com. However, these are 122 minutes I am never going to get back, and it is for this I cannot forgive David O’Russell.
Update: If you’re wondering who Ernie is, it’s one half of FrameRates. The other half disagrees entirely, so expect a rebuttal review sometime soon! That’s the beauty of film though, right? Everyone can take from a movie what they want.