Monday, February 18, 2013

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook, true to its name, is sort of a dreamy manual to help get one's life back on track. It uses all the known elements which we tend to associate with romantic comedies. From Football, dance competitions, to using  festivals to denote passage of time, it knows it belongs in the rom-com territory and isn't ashamed of it. By the end, it elevates itself to much more, while adamantly sticking to the genre's aesthetics.

Bradley Cooper's Patrick belongs to the world where the concept of lying hasn't been invented. Forget white lies, he is incapable of uttering niceties. And his flaws make him flesh out into a very real person. What makes him worthy of being rooted for is his undying positivity to get out of the mess he finds himself in and restart a life with his wife.

Tiffany's arrival makes the film more interesting. When mutual friends Ronny and Veronica decide to set these two broken, vulnerable people up in the hope that they could feed off each other, Russell puts the viewer in Patrick's place by holding back with certain parts of the story and investing in coincidences. Is Tiffany for real or a figment of Patrick's wild imagination? How does he keep running into her? And what are the odds of her being an equally broken person?

The film is handling an icky subject of mental illness and you don't see any of those scenes which milk the sentiment. We are not provided with any directives and we come to root for our leads on our own accord. One of the interesting aspects of the movie is how it hints at Pat Sr.'s own struggles with mental problems but doesn't go the distance to shed more light on the topic. It gives you a hint that Patrick's problems may have deep hereditary roots and it was going to burst out in open one way or the other.

There are cliches and then there are comforting cliches. Silver Linings gives us exactly what we want to see. It didn't inspire me as much as it did a few others, but it was always, you know, nice. In Patrick's words, the world is a pretty messed up place as it is and we don't need another sad Hemingway ending.