As soon as “Silver Linings Playbook” played in Toronto it became the front runner for the Oscar. This is something its Oscar handlers were seeking to avoid, but the film then went on to win the coveted TIFF audience award nabbed by such past crowd-pleasers as Oscar-winner “Slumdog Millionaire.” Yes, “Argo” and “Amour” and “The Sessions” and the Weinsteins’ other TIFF entries “The Master” and “Quartet” are also in the Oscar hunt. But right now it’s “The Silver Linings Playbook”‘s to lose.
Front and center in the best actress and actor race are the film’s two romantic leads, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, as two lost, emotionally damaged yet attractive people who draw comfort and kinship from each other. Writer-director David O. Russell has, dare I say it, Billy Wilder’s tough unsentimental approach to romance. This delicately edited relationship comedy is both funny and moving. Even in this cynical age, we root for these two characters in pain to heal each other, win their dance contest and find true love.
As strong as Kentucky-bred Lawrence has been so far–from her Oscar-nominated role in “Winter’s Bone” to iconic action heroine Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games”–she comes into her own in “Silver Linings Playbook.” An actress who relies on her own instincts on how to read a character and make her real, Lawrence blossomed under Debra Granik’s tutelage on “Winter’s Bone” and proved she was not a one-trick pony when she also popped in Jodie Foster’s “The Beaver.”
After landing the coveted “Silver Linings” role via a Skype audition from Lousiville, Lawrence embraced Russell’s hardboiled directing style. If he told her something sucked, she did it again. And yes, she admits in our video interview below, she memorized the scene-stopping monologue that drew cheers at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall–even if she got her sports teams mixed up at first.
Less impressive was Lawrence’s smothered-in-latex Mystique, who supported a male-dominated studio action ensemble. Luckily, while Lawrence got a kick out of joining a comic book franchise, she has plenty of “fuck you” resources behind her so that she can cherry pick challenging indie projects going forward. Next up: Lawrence so enjoyed working with costar Cooper that she swiftly signed on to a movie (“Serena”) with another demanding director: Denmark’s Oscar-winning Susanne Bier.