Crazies in love.
DIRECTED BY DAVID O. RUSSELL
While TIFF likes to herald its People’s Choice Award as a prime prognostic of a potential Best Picture winner, Oscar pundits will surely have bigger fish to fry than Silver Linings Playbook. Even by the Academy’s relatively populist standards, the TIFF ’12 award-winner would appear to be an outside bet, despite the pedigree of director David O. Russell (fresh from The Fighter), and the instant cred that seems to attach to any film that deals, as Playbook does, with mental illness. Which isn’t to say that Playbook is bad—merely that, for all the post-fest buzz, beneath the film’s surface eccentricities, it’s basically a run-of-the-mill rom-com.
At least initially, Playbook threatens to be something more, casting Bradley Cooper as a volatile bipolar outpatient entrusted to the care of his well-meaning but ill-equipped mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert De Niro), who is himself plainly afflicted with OCD. But it’s quickly apparent that the mental disorder angle is little more than a canny triple-pronged device, simultaneously furnishing the film with a modicum of dramatic heft, lending its characters some appealing quirks, and serving to link Cooper with Jennifer Lawrence’s comely kindred headcase. Cue a courtship beset by the genre’s staple gratification-delaying contrivances.
Here, it seems, the adulation of TIFF audiences is aptly explained by a scene featured in Playbook‘s trailer, wherein Cooper’s character takes violent exception to the downer conclusion of Hemingway’s classic A Farewell to Arms: artistic merit is well and good, but sometimes a textbook Hollywood ending is just what the doctor ordered.