November 21, 2013 by Hope W.
Rewatched Silver Linings Playbook to revisit Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar-winning turn before I go and watch her again in Catching Fire. (I am seriously enamoured with this hilarious yet utterly talented girl.)
I liked the movie when I saw it last year, and thought its story of two messed up people coming together to help each other was funny and heartwarming, but a lot of the mental health issues went over my head then. I didn’t get why these people were so dysfunctional, or how anyone could be as neurotic and unstable as all that. And it wasn’t just Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and Danny (Pat’s friend from the hospital, played by Chris Tucker) that were crazy; almost everyone in this movie is mental in some way — including Robert De Niro as his OCD, superstitious, American football-obsessed dad, and Pat’s friend Ronnie, who is trying to cope with his suffocating marriage.
Watching it again with an open mind — that just because I haven’t been through mental illness myself doesn’t mean there aren’t people like that, nor is there anything particularly wrong about them — helped me understand the movie better in terms of the characters’ journeys towards finding their “silver linings”, rather than being fixated on how disturbed they all were. In any case, through this film, I’ve come to realise that everybody, and I mean *everybody*, is in varying stages of madness anyway, even if it is not as obvious in most people.
When I found out that Jennifer Lawrence was just 21 when she did this movie, I couldn’t believe that (a) they got a 21-year-old to take on such a screwed up role of a young, “crazy” widow, and (b) that Jennifer Lawrence was only 21. You hardly notice the 15-year age gap between her and Bradley Cooper with how perfectly she embodies Tiffany — looking slightly older than her actual age, yet young enough to fall apart and sleep with everyone after her husband dies, at an age when most young adults are still discovering their sexuality.
Her character is so human — she’s funny and brash and angry and “crazy” and grieving and heartbroken and in love; sometimes several of these at a go — and her emotions so real, you cannot help but feel with her: whether it’s her railing against her sister for bringing Pat’s ex-wife Nikki to the dance competition in an angry, distressed whisper (“You’re killing me”), or her tearful look of disbelief at the end when Pat confesses that he loves her, or that remarkable diner scene where she loses it and screams at Pat for judging her when he’s equally as screwed up as she is. I was actually rooting for Jessica Chastain to win Best Actress for her role in Zero Dark Thirty instead, but Jennifer Lawrence deserves it equally.
Bradley Cooper is great too as the bi-polar Pat Soletano trying to win back his ex-wife who cheated on him, though his mood swings are extremely disorientating. One moment, he would be saying highly inappropriate, unfeeling things, and the next moment he would be defending Tiffany’s irrational behaviour to others. But the scene where he goes ballistic looking for his wedding video in the middle of the night is really impressive, if only because I didn’t know he had it in him, since I’ve only watched him in action movies and comedies. In fact, the whole cast is just fantastic, including Jacki Weaver as Pat’s grounded mum and the glue holding the family together. I’m glad that she, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro were nominated for their performances as well.
Jennifer Lawrence’s next movie to come out (after Catching Fire) is Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell’s American Hustle, where she will be playing another unstable character; this time round as Christian Bale’s wife. The age gap here is even wider, and Christian Bale mentioned too that he was initially concerned about it, but he praised her performance, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing how she pulls it off.