There has been much discussion this year about Louisville's current mega-starlet Jennifer Lawrence. This reviewer has followed her career over the past year with some interest. As has been mentioned multiple times before, Lawrence first made our city proud by obtaining an Oscar nomination for her performance in 2010's Winter's Bone, a film which was also deemed worthy of a Best Picture nomination. Her career has skyrocketed, landing her leading roles in three films this year – first, the surprisingly good The Hunger Games (whose sequel will be released in November of next year), followed by the summer bomb The House at the End of the Street. The third film entered theaters the day before Thanksgiving, opening to critical acclaim and even some early Oscar buzz – 'tis the season, after all.
Silver Linings Playbook is the newest film by David O. Russell, whose previous film, 2010's The Fighter, earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. His most recent effort stars Bradley Cooper as Pat Solitano, a bi-polar man who has just been released from an eight-month stint in a mental hospital following a violent “incident.” He is serious about his reformation, attempting to better himself both physically and mentally so he can reconnect with his wife, who he is not allowed to contact due to a restraining order out against him. While living at his parents' house, he meets Tiffany Maxwell (Lawrence), a strange girl who is just as socially awkward as he is. They form a unique sort of friendship as she agrees to help him contact his wife if he will help her participate in a dance competition.
The casting could not be more perfect. Cooper breaks out of his usual sexy-man acting (a la The Hangover or Limitless) to deliver a flawless performance as a broken man desperately trying to hold it all together for what he believes to be the greatest force in the world – the perceived love between him and his wife. Not only is his acting effective and believable – it is also funny. The character of Pat does not believe in lies or secrets, having learned that they only cause problems. He thinks nothing of nonchalantly asking, “How'd [your husband] die?” or getting into an in-depth dinner-time discussion of various medications for mental illness.