I walked out of Silver Linings Playbook with two thoughts. One: this movie truly deserves all the praise it’s receiving. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and the rest of the cast do an amazing job and I can’t think of the last time I left a movie loving everyone’s performance.
Two: I’ve now very attracted to Bradley Cooper. Like I suddenly felt compelled to spend the rest of the day looking up obscure clips of him on Youtube.
Clips like this one of him from a 1999 episode of Sex and the City.
Sure I’ve always found him appealing. He’s clearly a good-looking guy and I can’t say I didn’t notice his piercing eyes in The Hangover and The Hangover: Same Script, Different City. But until this movie I never felt so attracted to him. I’ve never felt that obsessive urge wash over me, this need to know everything about him and his career and his upcoming projects.
In Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper plays Pat — a bipolar man who’s working hard to win back his estranged wife after getting released from a mental hospital. On top of that, he’s attempting to find his place in a community that doesn’t seem to be so sure they want him to find a place.
After so many years of seeing him play self-assured characters who have no problem getting ladies to fall in love with him, I found it so refreshing to see him so vulnerable.
From the very beginning of the movie, you root for Pat. He’s clearly unstable, but he’s also clearly working hard to fix himself for the sake of himself and his family. Pat doesn’t want to be crazy and he doesn’t want to be a pariah in his town. But he also doesn’t want to give up who he is by numbing himself into oblivion with medication.
After watching so many movies portray mental illness so inaccurately, it’s always nice to see a mentally ill character who succeeds against his struggle to live a normal life. Maybe I watch too many Lifetime movies, but I’m always offended at the idea that mentally ill people are either openly dangerous (and therefore in need of some kind of incarceration) or normal people who suddenly snap and go crazy.
Like anyone else, people suffering from a mental illness are complex human beings who are capable of a range of emotions and actions. Bradley Cooper manages to capture this so brilliantly that I’m now confident that he has a long acting career ahead of him.
That once he gets through Hangover: Really, We’re Doing This Again, he’ll be able to take on more roles like this. Roles that more accurately reflect just how talented he is as an actor and how much better he can be in a movie when he’s not playing the hot asshole.
(Photo: Cinema Pulse)