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I’m not ashamed to say that I am an extremely indecisive person. Whether it’s deciding between chicken or fish, or it’s which college I’m going to go to next year, it seems that my pro/con lists always seem to come out dead even. However, movies are one of the few things that aren’t affected by my nutty back-and-forth-ness: nearly 100% of the time, I can walk out of a movie theater knowing exactly what I thought about it. “Skyfall”? Loved it. “Twilight”? No, thank you.
So when I discovered my inability to decide what I thought of my last theatrical experience, “Silver Linings Playbook,” I was baffled. In fact, the list of things I can actually make my mind up about is growing shorter by the minute. So in hopes of solving this conundrum, I’ve decided to present you with two lists: one, a list of reasons that I might have liked this movie, the other, a list of reasons I may not have. If you’ll entertain me, join me for the creation of another one of my crazy pro/con lists.
What initially attracted me to this movie was it’s truly unique storyline. I love a good romantic comedy as much as the next girl, but sometimes the typical happy ending that you can see coming from a mile away get a little boring. As you can imagine, “Silver Linings”, complete with an emotionally unstable main character with a disgruntled young widow love interest, is not that movie. And I found that refreshing. It’s not every day that you see a movie with a bipolar main character like our Philadelphia thirtysomething, Pat (Bradley Cooper). But it’s even more unusual when that main character is out to win back his estranged (full-on with a restraining order estranged) wife while the audience is rooting for another obvious love interest (Tiffany, aka Jennifer Lawrence) the whole movie. The unique, complex story kept me interested and was definitely a pro.
Though I loved that the story wasn’t run-of-the-mill, at times, it felt somewhat choppy. Being a drama/ comedy hybrid, it would be genuinely funny sometimes and seconds later would turn extremely serious. As I watched, I felt this put the audience at a slight disadvantage, as you could get confused by how quickly things changed with Pat. But I realized later that this may have actually improved the movie’s quality — since Pat, our main character, was learning to cope with his bipolar disorder, it’s possible that we were supposed to see these situations from Pat’s point of view, in which feelings can turn from humorous to intense in moments. I hope this was the goal of the film’s director, but I’m not certain it was: in the end, I wasn’t sure whether this was a pro or a con.
Here’s another pro: Bradley Cooper is a good actor. And to be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure that was true before I saw this movie. I’ve never seen him knock a dramatic roll out of the park like this, and I was seriously impressed by his range of emotions and how convincingly he portrayed someone struggling with bipolar disorder. He delivered lines well, he had great chemistry with his costars and he convincingly expressed the frustration, confusion, and anger his character was going through while managing not to overdo these difficult-to-portray emotions. And to be honest, I really didn’t mind staring at his face for two hours.
That said, I have a con: I was a little disappointed by Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. It wasn’t by any means horrible, it wasn’t even bad, really. I just felt that throughout the film, her performance felt a little forced and over-acted at times. At other times, though, she showed her ability to be convincing and genuine in particular moments, like the scene where she explains to Pat (Bradley Cooper) how her husband died. The biggest problem I think I had with her performance was how overdone her screw-you-I’ve-dealt-with-hardships character feels. From “Winter’s Bone” to “Hunger Games” to this, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s only one character she feels comfortable playing.
I know that as a reviewer, I really should be more definitive about this movie, but I just can’t convince myself to feel one way or another. It seems like the more I think about this movie, the less certain I am about what I thought. Who knows how I feel about this movie. I guess my list of things I really know how I feel about is now completely non existent. So if you have the time, go see “Silver Linings Playbook” yourself, and help me make up my mind.