Silver Linings Playbook: David O. Russell’s Exccentric Comedy, Sgarring Bradley Copper and Jennifer Lawrence in Osca-Caliber Performance

At 54, writer-director David O. Russell is on a roll. Having directed the charming Oscar-winning “The Fighter,” his most commercial work to date (close to $100 million domestically), he has now made another eccentric comedy about a dysfunctional family with serious overtones, Silver Linings Playbook.

A highlight of the Telluride and Toronto Film Fests, “Silver Linings Playbook,” one of the best films of the year (so far) and a major Oscar contender, will be released by the Weinstein Co. in November, which stands to score big at the box-office.

If Audience Awards are any indication, the Weinstein Co. has an Oscar-caliber, extremely likable picture, likely to appeal to both critics and viewers (not an easy feat), not to mention the Oscar voters.

Though his film ouevre is rather small, Russell has only made good movies, and though there are some recurrent issues, each film is different in its narrative, characters, and visual style. What’s common to all of his features, no matter what their literary source is, is an idiosyncratic vision, and superlative ensemble of actors that are suitably cast.

For starters, Bradley Cooper, mostly associated with broad comedies 9The Hangiver and its sequel), gives his strongest and richest performance to date. And I can’t recall the last time Robert De Niro was so animated and directly involved in his acting, All members of the cast deserve (and may get) Oscar nominations, including Jacki Weaver, who made a strong impression in Animal Kingdom.”

Russell has shown that, darker or lighter, every subject matter (including incest, masturbation, adoption, surrogate parenthood, even war) contains potentially comedic and ironic elements that a sharp observer can bring out into the open.

It therefore comes as no surprise that “Silver Linings Playbook” revolves around a theme that Russell has become an expert of: The unanticipated consequences (mostly joys but also pains) of existence, based on the notion that everyday life, as we know and experience it, seldom goes according to a pre-determined plan.

Take Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper), a bright, handsome guy, who has lost everything that mattered to him, including his house, his job, and his wife. (Russell can relate to all of these issues on a more personal level, having gone through breakups and divorce, and periodic hiatus and decline in his career).

Forced to move back into his parents’ house, after spending eight months is a state institution on a plea bargain, Pat now struggles how to navigate more or less smoothly in his encounters with his mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) and his father Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), each a force of nature.

Trying to be upbeat, Pat is determined to rebuild his life. This means he needs to remain positive in his morale and perhaps even reunite with his wife, despite the challenging circumstances (to say the least) of their separation.

Pat’s parents claim that “all” they want is for him to get back on his feet-and to share their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team.

However, when Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated and utterly unpredictable. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, on one condition, that he’ll do something very important for her in return.

Little does he know of what his obligations would, abd desperate to make a significant change in his life, David agrees. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear not only in their lives, but also in all those surrounding them.

A longer review will be published later.

Cast

Pat – Bradley Cooper
Tiffany – Jennifer Lawrence
Pat Sr. – Robert De Niro
Dolores – Jacki Weaver
Danny – Chris Tucker
Dr. Cliff Patel – Anupam Kher

Credits

Weinstein Co. release and presentation.

Produced by Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon.

Executive producers, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, George Para, Michelle Raimo, Bradley Cooper.

Co-producer, Mark Kamine.

Directed, written by David O. Russell.

Running time: 120 Minutes.