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The Silver Linings Playbook

Year: 2012
Production Co: The Weinstein Company
Director: David O Russell
Writer: David O Russell
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Julia Stiles

Even though he's one of the prodigies of the 90s indie movement, David O Russell is refreshingly decoupled from the over-dedicated devotion to the image many of his generation still suffer from. He points a camera at good actors and lets an interesting story unfold without any auteurish tics or hallmarks.

He's also matured into a director unafraid to give the audience the happy ending they want, as he did with The Fighter and does again here, complete with the hero and heroine realising their love for each other and falling into each others' embrace in the final frames.

It came from humble beginnings before cleaning up at the box office and getting some Oscar love for Jennifer Lawrence, and it's not until after it's over you realise how effortless Russell, Lawrence, Cooper and De Niro make it look to be warm and funny even as they deal with mental illness.

It's never played strictly for comedy, nor is it done in a laboured, issues-movie-of-the-week style. Instead it's just a simple and pleasant story of real people with problems trying to belong and connect.

After being let out of prison for some temper-related misdemeanour into the care of his loving mother (Weaver) and OCD-afflicted father (De Niro), Patrick (Cooper) just wants to get on with his life, convinced his estranged wife is waiting to get back with him now he's better.

But as several dramatic scenes show, Patrick's anything but better. The only person who seems to be able to understand him is a similar misfit, Tiffany (Lawrence), grieving from the sudden death of her police officer husband by throwing herself into promiscuity.

The plot throws them together because Tiffany lets Patrick believe she can get a letter to his ex through a family connection, exacting payment by making him partner with her in an upcoming dance competition. In a far less accomplished movie you can see what's going to happen a mile away and to be honest you can here too, it's just so authentic and realistic about getting there you forgive any shortcomings in the resolution.

Lawrence is so cute and sweet I never really believed her as an off-the-rails harlot, but their scenes together are full of zing and chemistry. And what a genius move by Russell casting Chris Tucker in an unrecognisable role away from his motor-mouth persona (and Tucker for doing it).

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