Submitting to popular cineplex formulae whilst maintaining his fiercely individual style of characterization and dialogue, American master David O. Russell delivers his most flawed film which still contains a multitude of pleasures. Silver Linings Playbook, an adaptation of a recent novel, tackles mental illness, family, and human frailty within the context of Hollywood rom-com generalities.
Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jacki Weaver, and Chris Tucker all turn in splendid performances, heading a game cast that seems amped on Russell's quirky, idiosyncratic way with words. And yet, aside from all that, the structure, momentum, and denouement are all ruefully disappointing.
While it is exciting that Russell, one of our country's leading cinematic lights, has finally broken through to a mass audience, its lamentable that it is with his most ordinary film. The buzz built around Silver Linings Playbook is just that: buzz; all sound and no fury. Here's hoping that those who adored this good but minor film will glance backwards at his masterworks; Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings, and I Heart Huckabees, some of the most inspired and magical American motion pictures of the past two decades.