earlier this week, I went into Silver Linings Playbook with every intent to carve it the fuck up. But I'm kind of grateful to report that it is actually quite good - by no means a landmark dark comedy like Russell's three best films (let alone Buffalo '66), but certainly deeper, more personal and more alive than The Fighter. One of my many concerns going into this was the extent to which the mental illnesses would be played as quirks rather than genuine afflictions, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the film was not only game to go dark and unpleasant during its excellent first act, but also to explore a variety of illnesses in more characters than just those with a diagnosis. There are certainly some flaws here - I understand how a movie about working through mental issues could feel the temptation to present almost all of its back story and much of its subtext via directly stated monologues (i.e., life as therapy), but that doesn't mean it's the best way to tell the story, particularly for a filmmaker with Russell's ample (if perhaps under-deployed and underrated) visual gifts. There's also an ultra-critical element of my interpretation that I may have been WAY off on (I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else) - let's just say it would greatly decrease my enthusiasm if I become convinced that I'm wrong. I'm kind of dying to hear from others who have seen it, so read the next paragraph and share your thoughts. But even if I turn out to be wrong, it's still considerably better than I expected it to be.
So, I basically watched the majority of this film assuming that both Lawrence and Tucker were figments of Cooper's imagination, alternate personalities that he seems to have invented. I honestly expected there to be a late turn wherein we see that these two (and perhaps other characters?) are definitively figments of his imagination; given that this never happens, I'm not sure whether I was right and Russell played it perfectly, or whether I am totally the fuck off base. I first got this impression with Tucker in his first big scene, trying to hitch a getaway ride with Pat and his mom; the fade from Tucker to an empty backseat suggested that he might not be tactile, and his place in the story seemed only to exist as a manifestation of Pat's paranoia about having been released too early. As for Lawrence....let's just say the movie is much more difficult to accept if we're expected to buy her as a flesh-and-blood human. She only really functions as a fantasy construct trying to reawaken Pat's love for himself and his long-suppressed sexual desires - there's enough overt contrasts and similarities in their personalities to think it could be a yin-yang scenario. Given that the movie seems to suggest, ultimately, that their romance was the endgame, I'm starting to have my doubts....but again, I spent basically the 30 minute mark to the end credits assuming that she wasn't real, and it made several of the sillier pieces go down a lot smoother.
Response from anyone who's seen it?