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Silver Linings Playbook - Blu-ray Review

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Silver Linings Playbook - Blu-ray Review

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3 stars

Romantic comedies don’t get more manipulative than writer/director David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook.  They typically can’t get any more damaged either.  Centered rather seriously upon mental illness, Russell constructs a fragile film built upon instability and medication and then completely drops the nervous tension for a standard rom-com trek.  Yes, it seems the film itself suffers from a bit of a disorder.

A funny thing happens in this movie, though.  As ridiculous as the Philadelphia Eagles-centric plot becomes, the more real the acting turns.  Eventually – and maybe because we can’t just dismiss it – the film comes together and awards viewers – even as formulaic as its main romance is – with a medicated consciousness that works due its performances.

Of course, the Cinderella-esque film would easily be less than it is without Jennifer Lawrence (who won critical praise and countless awards for her role) and Bradley Cooper as a couple of damaged misfits who fall in love.  Even Chris Tucker, making a rare on-screen appearance as a mental-hospital escapee, adds something to the whole calculated psychosis of it all.

As dark as it is, Silver Linings Playbook is – from a director like Russell – a sort of breezy affair.  Bi-polar disorder is not.  The disorder is also not as simple as Russell suggests it is…being treatable with medication alone and waved under a rug.  The seriousness (and possible misunderstanding) of the disorder is brought on by Cooper’s manic and slightly overstated performance as the film’s protagonist.

Pat (Cooper) is released from a mental hospital 8 months after attacking a man he found in the shower with his wife.  It’s part of a plea bargain and, as much as he wants to reconcile with his wife, the court won’t allow him to come within 500 hundred feet of her.  He has one version of the events.  The facts have another.  It’s a sentimental delusion; one that makes his plan to “win” back his wife all the more touching.

The marriage is over and everyone – including his mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert DeNiro) - knows it.  Unfortunately, Pat doesn’t.    A couple (John Ortiz and Julia Stiles) of friends invite him to dinner with newly widowed Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), and she – rather manically – introduces herself as “a crazy slut with a dead husband.”  Well, so much for first impressions.

Quiet sparks fly as Pat and Tiffany’s jogging schedules collide and, pretty soon, a bet concerning the Philadelphia Eagles and their dance performance becomes the main focus of the film.  It should be said that Cooper simply can’t keep up with Lawrence performance-wise.  The film works because she works. Her Tiffany is smart and sassy and very, very real.  Simply put, the sillier the script becomes the harder she works to bring it back to reality.  Lawrence buries him with her character’s magnetic charm.

As quirky and as unbelievable as the film becomes (rather shamelessly stereotypical, too), it’s also very traumatic but Benny and Joon – all similarities aside – it isn’t.   Russell’s screenplay – based on a novel by Matthew Quick – is saved by the performances (a list that also includes Weaver and DeNiro) that lend themselves to a “world on fire” sort of realism.  This is one of the films where the dramatic credibility comes from the acting and locations alone.  The screenplay feels too fabricated; too pandering to be honest about this story.

It’s not that Silver Linings Playbook isn’t enjoyable as a motion picture; it just isn’t all that it is being heralded as.  This is a big-studio “product” wrapped up in indie garb.  It has its moments but suffers from giant leaps of rom-com corniness and – outside of Lawrence – the emotional investment of the picture arrives alongside a hefty serving of improbability.  This is a film to see with an audience … not all alone.  There’s simply too much temptation to just hit “stop” or skip to the dancing.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Silver Linings Playbook - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: R for language and some sexual content/nudity.
Director
: David O. Russell
Writer
: David O. Russell
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence: Bradley Cooper; Robert DeNiro; Jacki Weaver
Genre
: Drama | Comedy
Tagline:
Watch for the signs
Memorable Movie Quote: "You have poor social skills. You have a problem."
Distributor:
The Weinstein Company
Official Site:
silverliningsplaybookmovie.com
Release Date: November 16, 2012
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 30, 2012

Synopsis: Life doesn’t always go according to plan…Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) has lost everything -- his house, his job, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert DeNiro) after spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain. Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife, despite the challenging circu mstances of their separation. All Pat’s parents want is for him to get back on his feet - and to share their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team. When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he'll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Silver Linings Playbook - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
3 stars

3 stars



Blu-ray Experience
3 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - April 30, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; iTunes digital copy; DVD copy

Anchor Bay/Starz/The Weinstein Company's Blu-ray of Silver Linings Playbook looks just fine.  Most of the film deals with hand-held camera work, so it's more about the story than the look of the film, but with it being "shaky" it has more of a natural and signature feel.  The crisp transfer captures the details well.  Contrast is perfectly pitched, creating a fine sense of depth, grain is almost totally absent, and no specks or scratches mar the pristine source material. Though the color palette remains rather muted, the green accents on the Philadelphia Eagles jerseys possess some pop, black levels are strong, and fleshtones are solid.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

The extras keep it light, and stress the film's star power. A long gallery of deleted scenes are presented in full quality; a making-of featurette is pure EPK will please fans enamored by the lead performances. In another extra David O. Russell and some of the cast answer questions at a festival screening. We also get some low-res dance rehearsal footage where it's not easy to tell the dance models from the stars. Then the film's choreographer breaks down the whole final routine for dance fanatics.

  • Deleted Scenes (26 min)
  • Silver Linings Playbook: The Movie That Became a Movement (29 min)
  • Dance Rehearsal (1 min)
  • Going Steadycam with Bradley Cooper (1 min)
  • Q & A Highlights (27 min)
  • Learn to Dance Like Pat & Tiffany (12 min)

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