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By MARK TURNER
With so many movies being released these days it's hard to decide what movie to rent or watch. If you have a particular favorite genre you usually lean that direction. If you hear from a friend you might use that to decide. Most of us rarely step out of our comfort zone, though.
Make a decision to do that tonight and rent SILVER LINING PLAYBOOK.
Forget the cover or ads, this is not a romantic comedy. There is romance and there are some funny moments, but the heart of this film revolves around mental illness. Not in the usual depressing sort of way but in a way that opens up discussion about the topic and that makes you realize you can have problems but still find hope.
Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a bipolar sufferer whose mother gets him released from a mental institution after eight months inside. Pat went there after he returned home early one day to find his wife in the shower with a colleague and attacking him. This was the trigger that brought about the realization that he was suffering from bipolar disorder.
Once home we get a glimpse of where Pat's problems may have begun. His father Pat Sr. (Robert DeNiro) is a book operator who is slightly OCD to say the least. Problems in the past between son and father are history but at the same time affect much of what happens in the present. Trying to rebuild bridges and solve those problems makes up part of this story.
Pat is trying to change his life all in the hopes of getting back with his ex-wife, who has a restraining order out against him. He runs, works out and is reading the syllabus of books she recommends to her students. She wanted him to lose weight, to be better read and to find a way to enjoy life. Now he's trying in hopes of their reuniting.
Pat's friend Ronnie invites him to dinner and there introduces him to his wife's sister, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Tiffany has problems of her own with her husband having died a few months earlier and having just lost her job. The two seem at first to but heads but eventually a friendship begins to flourish when Tiffany suddenly shows up to run alongside Pat while he jogs.
As a bond slowly forms between the two and friendship blossoms, Pat remains focused on his ex-wife. Tiffany continues to try and build on their friendship, eventually agreeing to get a letter to Pat's ex in return for one favor. She wants him to help her by being her dance partner in a ballroom dancing competition. Pat agrees, anything to bring his ex back.
The nice part about this film is the chemistry between the two actors in the leads as well as the supporting cast that surrounds them. There isn't a wasted moment of film used in the telling of this story and you find yourself rooting not only for the main characters but everyone involved here. The icing on the cake is the slow development of the characters rather than the rushed feeling most movies present these days. Instead of Pat or Tiffany suddenly becoming a different ball of emotions, their changes develop as the story unfolds making it a more complete and realistic film.
The charm of this film is that you can't help but love these characters as portrayed because they seem so real. You want the best for them, you want them to succeed and until the final moments of the film you're just not quite sure if that will happen or not. It also provides a platform to leap from if there is someone with a mental illness in your real life. The topic has always seemed taboo but films like this will make it easier to approach someone or to open up and say "I have a problem."
The highest praise I can offer for this film is to say I think it should have taken the Oscar for best picture. It is a movie I felt like I could sit back and watch all over again just as soon as it finished. Finding a movie like that these days is rare indeed.
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