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Silver Linings Playbook (Blu-ray Review)

15 May, 2013 By: John Latchem

Anchor Bay
Box Office $131.9 million
$29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for language and some sexual content/nudity.
Stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker.

Finding comedy in dark themes is nothing new to cinema, but finding a tone that doesn’t undercut a serious message is a skill few filmmakers have mastered. Director David O. Russell achieves such a balance in Silver Linings Playbook, which deconstructs the routines of a romantic comedy through the prism of a man coping with bipolar disorder.

Russell, whose screenplay adapts the novel by Matthew Quick, recounts in the bonus material that he was looking for a story that could apply to his experiences with his son, who deals with mood disorders similar to those at the heart of the book.

The film more explicitly centers on the issue of bipolar disorder, focusing on the character of Pat (Bradley Cooper), a former teacher recently released from a mental hospital where he ended up after beating the crap out of a co-worker he found in the shower with his wife. Struggling to re-adjust to a normal life and vowing to reconnect with his wife, Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow who takes a liking to him and convinces him to join her in a dance competition.

While Lawrence won the majority of accolades, including the Best Actress Oscar, to cap a meteoric Hollywood rise, the entire cast is excellent. Cooper is something of a revelation, subverting his usual smarmy charm to create a nuanced character deeply affected by mood swings but worthy of our support. It’s fun to see him play off of Robert De Niro as his father, as the film suggests the family may have a history of mental health quirks.

The Blu-ray cuts to the quick, so to speak, with the half-hour featurette “Silver Linings Playbook: The Movie That Became a Movement,” which explores how the film examines mental health issues, using not only interviews with Russell, Quick, Cooper and Lawrence, but also outsiders such as Dr. Oz and former congressman Patrick Kennedy, the latter having been diagnosed as bipolar.

Other extras on the disc include 27 minutes of highlights from a Q&A with Russell and most of the cast, who aren’t short on praise for each other; a 10-minute featurette about the choreography of Pat and Tiffany’s zany final dance number; and assorted rehearsal footage, mostly from the dance scenes.

The Blu-ray also includes about 26 minutes of deleted scenes, including an alternate ending that works better as a drawn-out epilogue than it would have as part of the movie.

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