Sandwiched between Paul Thomas Anderson‘s “The Master” and Quentin Tarantino‘s “Django Unchained,“ David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” was the oddball of The Weinstein Company presentation this evening at the Cannes Film Festival. Not that there’s anything wrong with it specifically, but just coming in the middle of two much more ambitious, auteur driven movies, only emphasized just how…ordinary and run-of-the-mill Russell’s film felt.
Based on the book by Matthew Quick, the story centers on Pat Peoples (a tracksuit and Philadelphia Eagles jersey-wearing Bradley Cooper), a former high school teacher who, after being released from a four-year stint in a mental institution, moves back in with his mother, then seeks to put his life back together. The trailer evoked the feel of Russell’s “Flirting With Disaster,” with a similar quirky-family vibe, with Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver both solid, if not memorable. However, Jennifer Lawrence puts in what looks like a nice turn as Pat’s love interest, an equally fucked-up young woman who reveals that she was fired from her job recently for sleeping with literally everyone in the office. It’s a more grown-up part for “The Hunger Games” star and she wears it nicely. Also impressing is Chris Tucker as Pat’s best friend. Freed from the his now-growing-stale, high pitched, chatterbox routine (in his first role outside the “Rush Hour” franchise for fifteen years), Tucker dials it down a half dozen notches, and reveals that he can actually act, and he and Cooper share some great chemistry.
But aside from that, we had be hard pressed to actually remember anything else of note. All told it has the feeling of an accomplished, well made but still very ordinary Indie Dramedy, the kind of project that will get decent reviews, probably make some decent coin at the box office and then kill on DVD. In short, it was decent, but not distinct. It feels at the moment like a programmer, rather than anything more, but never discount the power of Harvey. If he’s showing it off this early, it’s likely he has higher ambitions and there is still plenty of time go until it lands in the middle of award season on November 21st.