Some of the most intricate, oddly endearing (no matter how gruff or selfish or disturbed) characters to grace movie screens in the past few years have been introduced to audiences by David O. Russell. A former mental patient and his deeply troubled girlfriend. A quartet of soldiers out to steal gold during the Persian Gulf War. Conmen, FBI agents, and well-intentioned politicians navigating the New Jersey mob. Existential detectives. The list goes on.
A new supercut by Jacob T. Swinney highlights the consistently “cool, calm, [and] neurotic” characters unique to Russell’s filmography. Swinney asserts, “Russell’s characters tend to possess a variety of contradicting qualities that spin and twist throughout the duration of the film. It started in 1994 with the quirky, baby-faced pre-med student who just so happens to have an incestuous relationship with his mother (Spanking the Monkey),” Russell’s first feature (which isn’t actually used in the supercut). He continues, concluding that “while these characters may seem to be unlikeable on paper, in spite of their tedious and often aggravating complexities, we cannot help but care for them.” As a testament to his claim, Swinney includes scenes from six of Russell’s films, “Flirting with Disaster,” “Three Kings,” “I Heart Huckabees,” “The Fighter,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” and “American Hustle.” Of the half dozen films featured, it’s worth noting that only “The Fighter” wasn’t also written by Russell.
Naturally, the same faces pop up time and again during the 4-minute supercut, and why wouldn’t they? There’s a good reason Russell reteams so frequently with a few rotating Hollywood A-listers. It takes a very talented actor to pull off the complex, dislikeable yet simultaneously endearing and engaging characters intrinsic to a David O. Russell picture. Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper have routinely proven they each have what it takes to bring such robust characters to life. Their performances have garnered them Oscar nominations and wins, along with countless other accolades. Russell, too, has met with great critical success due to the complex characters he creates for the screen. The man himself has been nominated for five Academy Awards (three as director and two for screenplay).
Check out the supercut below, and if it strikes you, take the time to rewatch some of David O. Russell’s work. As of today, “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Three Kings,” and “Flirting with Disaster” are all streaming on Netflix. [Press Play]