Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

SilverLiningsPlaybookAKA Happiness Therapy

Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, Julia Stiles, Paul Herman, Dash Mihok

Directed by David O. Russell

Expectations: High.

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I almost didn’t see David O. Russel’s previous film, The Fighter, because I thought I didn’t need to see another boxing movie. I was wrong. Even with this in mind, I wasn’t all that fired up when I first heard about Silver Linings Playbook, Russell’s latest film. Over time, the hype machine built it up enough so I felt like I had to see it, and I’m glad I did, as I enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook quite a lot. My girlfriend seemed less than impressed, remarking that the song over the end credits “is upbeat to make you think it was a great movie,” and I don’t necessarily disagree. While Silver Linings Playbook is easily one of the best films of 2012, I don’t think it’s one that will stand out as a classic as the years roll on.

The film is a very interesting mix of mental illness and “boy meets girl,” making the film transcend its romantic roots and feel like more of a quirky indie drama than a romantic film. The romantic angle is always there, though, brewing under the surface in the electric, honest scenes between Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and Pat (Bradley Cooper). But by the time the film reaches its climax it can’t hold itself back any longer, embracing its true nature and delivering an ending that is nice, while clichéd and obvious. I guess there’s only so many ways for a romantic story to end.

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Mini-Review: The Fighter (2010)

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Mickey O’Keefe, Jack McGee, Melissa McMeekin, Bianca Hunter, Erica McDermott, Jill Quigg, Dendrie Taylor, Kate B. O’Brien, Jenna Lamia, Frank Renzulli, Paul Campbell

Directed by David O. Russell

Expectations: I saw this a couple months back and loved it.


I watched The Fighter a couple of months ago but chose not to write about it. I loved it from the opening moments, all the way to its thrilling climax and I just didn’t feel like breaking it down. I ended up watching the film again and the same feeling permeated the air around me. It’s not that I don’t think it’s worthy of a writeup. In fact, The Fighter may be the best picture of 2010, and any film garnering that kind of talk is always worthy of some dissection. I almost didn’t see this film too, as I had tried to completely avoid it because “I’ve seen enough underdog boxing movies.” Realistically I have, but The Fighter is about more than boxing.

It’s about family. The relationships between Micky, Dicky, their mother and their sisters are incredibly realistic thanks to stellar casting and acting from everyone. I’m unsure how accurate to life the storyline is, but it comes off very natural. Sure it hits a lot of clichéd beats here and there, most notably the “girlfriend re-bandaging our heroes wounds” routine that is in practically every movie, but The Fighter still feels genuine. David O. Russel’s handheld camera work and his dedication to licensed songs instead of a traditional score help paint the picture of the era and the location, and go a long way for believability in my book.

A lot of praise has been directed towards Christian Bale’s exuberant performance, and he’s very deserving of the talk, but I was especially taken with the work of Amy Adams. She did get an Oscar nomination for the role, though, so it would seem I’m not the only one that liked her here! She’s just dynamite in everything I’ve seen her in, but this just might be my favorite role of hers yet. I think what I was most taken with was how different she was from her role in Doubt. Adams exudes sex appeal and a resilient strength that few actresses can believably pull off.

If you’re like me and you think you’ve already seen all the boxing movies you can stomach, give this one a shot. It’s an incredibly well-made film that manages to be about more than just boxing. To me, the result of the final bout is inconsequential even, because the real story is about Micky’s familial relationships. The Fighter is a film that knows just how to get inside your soul and stick with you, and I look forward to future David O. Russell films.

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