Wednesday, January 9, 2013


By D.E.Levine

It's been rated as one of the great recent films and I'm not certain if I agree with that analysis.  Certainly, this film is unnerving because of it's attempt to deal with mental illness and in doing that  it's disturbing to viewers because the characters appear as somewhat unhinged.

Having made a bargain plea to escape jail, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), a history teacher with a bipolar disorder, spends eight months in a state mental institution, Pat has lost his home, his job and his wife.  Forced to move back in with his parents, Pat is a handful.

Unable to sleep through the night he wakes his mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert De Niro) at all hours, looking for his wedding video, wanting to discuss book story lines, etc.  Despite everything, Pat hopes to reconcile with his wife.

His parents just want him to remain stable, get back on his feet and move out.  But, you have to look at where he's coming from.  Dad Pat Sr. is a gambler who is obsessive over football, believing that Pat must watch the games with him from the family couch or the "mojo" doesn't work and he'll lose his bets.  And Dad has already been banned, after a fight, for life from the football stadium.

Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl with mental problems of her own following the death of her cop husband. He's introduced to Tiffany through friends who are also friends with his wife and she offers to help him get back in touch with his wife in exchange for his participation in an annual dance competition that's coming up.  He agrees only after he believes that his wife is going to attend and watch him.  Tiffany's motives are totally different.

Director David O. Russell also wrote the screenplay and he's made manic depression somewhat fashionable through this film.  A lot of the film is photographed darkly and perhaps Russell is trying to convey the dark spirit of the film, but overall the film is rather disjointed and difficult to follow.  On the other hand, perhaps that's exactly the way this discombobulated family lives their life,