“The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday. That’s guaranteed. I can’t begin to explain that. Or the craziness inside myself and everyone else. But guess what? Sunday’s my favourite day again. I think of what everyone did for me, and I feel like a very lucky guy.”
Second chances are good things.
Before Silver Linings Playbook was released here in January 2013, I, like most film buffs on the internet, was incredibly excited for it. The trailer looked amazing, I watched it a million times. It was winning awards everywhere, from the TIFF Audience Award to Golden Globes and Oscars, being named as one of the best films of the year. I was sold. Then opening day rolled around and I saw it…and I didn’t like it, at all. I wouldn’t say my expectations were very high, I’ve definitely expected a lot more from films, but I was very disappointed. I had serious reservations about the second half, I thought Jennifer Lawrence was way too young, it just didn’t work for me. I so desperately wanted to love it, but I didn’t.
Flash forward a year, and here we are, my opinion not taking a full 180 degree turn (I still don’t think it’s a masterpiece), but I enjoyed it a lot more this time. I can appreciate it much more now. Bradley Cooper, who I thought was amazing upon my first watch, still gives the best performance in my mind. The humour worked a lot more this time, I felt more engaged, and overall, I got it a lot more.
I still have many of the same reservations, but they’re not as magnified this time. I still think Lawrence is way too young for the role, she’s great, but just doesn’t look old enough to make what has happened to her character (marriage etc) be believable, and she’s much better in American Hustle. I still don’t agree with the direction the second half goes in, where it changes from being an excellent film about a man getting a second chance at life, starting anew and getting better (those scenes with his therapist and family are the best), to film that is still great, but one about a woman needing to be ‘saved’ from herself and how love was all she needed. It has some odd cinematography and editing choices (that MASSIVE zoom that just screams “THIS. IS. A. BIG. MOMENT.”, the focus on the shoes at the end), and an ending that’s was producer edited without a doubt (the extended one is much better, it doesn’t feel as rushed and out of character with the rest of the film).
On further consideration and connection to American Hustle, it’s become more and more evident that it’s probably best not to over think David O. Russell films. They’re entertaining in the moment, well acted, have great premises and create these awesome ‘worlds’, but once you start to analyse them, the issues really reveal themselves.
So, Silver Linings Playbook, I’m sorry for disliking you for a year. I was wrong about you, you are much better than I first thought. We are both still imperfect though, and, like everyone else, sometimes we need a second chance.
Silver Linings Playbook received a wide release in late January 2013.
M (mature themes, coarse language, sexual references and violence), 122 mins.