Director: David O. Russell
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (Robert de Niro), Best Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing
On the surface, an uninformed fool may dismiss this movie expecting a standard rom-com. How wrong this fool is. This movie is shot and edited, written, and acted in unconventional ways. It follows Philadelphian Pat Solitano, played by Bradley Cooper, who demonstrates just how talented he is as an actor in this movie. Pat has bipolar disorder and has been released from a mental health facility, and upon returning home, attempts to pick up the pieces of his life. He mainly strives to win back his wife, who has recently moved out and filed a restraining order against Pat. In Pat’s immediate family are his concerned and loving mother, played by Jacki Weaver, and his father Pat Sr., played by Robert de Niro. Pat Sr. is an interesting character; he is a big fan of the Philadelphia Eagles and is shown as having various OCD traits and a dependency on certain elements to be in place while watching football games to ensure the Eagles’ victory. This film continues to explore mental conditions and disorders when introducing Tiffany, the sister-in-law of one of Pat’s friends. Tiffany is played by Jennifer Lawrence, who is electric in this role. There isn’t a moment of her screen time where you don’t realize (or aren’t thinking about) what is on her mind and what she is feeling. Tiffany is stern and emotional, and Lawrence does a fantastic job. A recent widow, Tiffany immediately forms an interesting dynamic with Pat. Right from their first encounter, they ask personal and intrusive questions, yet they both appear to be on the same page, as their conversations flow well and they are both unfazed. They both discuss their various medications, and overall waste no time whilst talking to each other. They both form a strange bond with each other due to their quirks and instability, though Pat takes special attention to her due to her connection to his wife. These two characters are shown to be highly volatile; there are various scenes demonstrating this, and Cooper and Lawrence are able to bring out their best during these scenes. Their tantrums are loud, but feel realistic; they are filmed in a sort of uneasy filming style. It isn’t something you see every day, but it is something you COULD see. In fact, this movie as a whole feels very genuine. The dialogue, as bizarre as it may sound depending on who is speaking, feels genuine. It is easy to get immersed into this small chunk of Philadelphia. The camera is rarely static, but never shaky; it gives you a place of being, and the camera movement always fits within the context of what the characters are doing. Some of the weirder visual moments occur when the police officer charged with watching Pat appears; unconventional camera movements and editing convey a sense of foreboding trouble. The camera sometimes takes the perspective of Pat when observing Tiffany, with the camera glancing as he would. The movie, while exploring mental conditions and disorders, has the main theme of looking for happiness, or that “silver lining,” as the title obviously suggests. This happiness could be found in unexpected places through unexpected methods. I also felt that the film suggested that there is something within everyone’s mind that makes us all strange and unique.
It might not be what you’d expect, probably for the better. Featuring career-high performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, this look at mental illness, sports culture, love, and happiness is unconventional, yet charming and enjoyable.