CLOUDS, CLEAR­ING

Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film - Evan Wil­liams

Na­tional re­lease

A(M) ★★★✩✩ T the Syd­ney pre­view of Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book we were given a quick pub­li­cist’s run­down on the film’s achieve­ments to date. Eight Academy Award nom­i­na­tions in­clud­ing best pic­ture and best di­rec­tor for David O. Rus­sell (mak­ing this the first film since Mil­lion Dol­lar Baby to be nom­i­nated for best pic­ture and in all four act­ing cat­e­gories). Four Golden Globe nom­i­na­tions with a best ac­tress award for Jen­nifer Lawrence. Three BAFTA nom­i­na­tions and four from the Screen Ac­tors Guild. Last week came news that the Aus­tralian Academy of Cinema and Tele­vi­sion Arts had cho­sen Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book as its best pic­ture of the year. No one has yet men­tioned that Bradley Cooper, the male star, was named by Peo­ple mag­a­zine in 2011 as the sex­i­est man alive. I thought you should know that, too.

So by any stan­dards, it would seem, Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book is a first-rate film, per­haps even a great one? Well, let me put it this way: I quite en­joyed it, and the act­ing is ex­cel­lent. But just what sort of film is it meant to be? The stu­dio calls it a com­edy (not so sure), oth­ers a dra­matic com­edy, and the usu­ally re­li­able Wikipedia a ro­man­tic com­edy-drama. The film­mak­ers may not have been sure them­selves. Rus­sell is on record as say­ing that he rewrote the screen­play 20 times dur­ing the past four years — hardly a good sign. I also read that var­i­ous scenes with Robert De Niro were filmed in more ex­treme or darker modes than the script sug­gested, pend­ing a later de­ci­sion, pre­sum­ably, on whether De Niro’s char­ac­ter should be por­trayed in harsher or warmer tones. I’m not sure which ver­sion was cho­sen — though De Niro, as al­ways, makes a most en­gag­ing pres­ence. He’s a more at­trac­tive char­ac­ter in his ma­ture years than he was play­ing bruis­ing prize­fight­ers or para­noid gang­sters for Martin Scors­ese.

Set in Philadel­phia, Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book is the story of two lovers, each with a men­tal ill­ness. Pat Soli­tano (Cooper) is a his­tory teacher, re­cently dis­charged from a men­tal in­sti­tu­tion in Bal­ti­more af­ter eight months’ treat­ment for bi-po­lar dis­or­der. The trig­ger for his ill­ness (nar­rated in an early flash­back with his ther­a­pist) was the dis­cov­ery of his wife, Nikki, in the shower with a lover while Pat and Nikki’s wed­ding song, Ste­vie Won­der’s My Cherie Amour, plays on their bed­room stereo. Con­vinced that Nikki still loves him, and that he still loves Nikki in spite of ev­ery­thing, Pat is de­ter­mined to win her back. Then he meets a pretty young widow Tif­fany (Lawrence), who has lost her hus­band in a car ac­ci­dent. Tif­fany is a sex ad­dict who seeks to as­suage her grief with stren­u­ous jog­ging rou­tines and se­rial en­coun­ters with part­ners of ei­ther sex.

Will Pat go back to Nikki (or, rather, will Nikki come back to Pat?), or will Pat and Tif­fany make a go of things? Through­out his

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