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Silver Linings Playbook – Not Another Chick Flick

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Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
Below the Line screening members were invited last night to a screening of Silver Linings Playbook at the DGA Theater. The film played to an overflowing crowd, many of whom were viewing it for the first time.

Starring a mesmerizing and sometimes violently out of control Bradley Cooper, and an intense and beautifully rocky Jennifer Lawrence, the film takes the audience into a home where emotions both loving and violent run on high gear as Cooper’s character Pat and Lawrence’s Tiffany seek to come to terms with mental illness and life-altering tragedy. Robert De Niro gives a gut-clenching performance as Pat Sr., a man whose violence and genes have contributed heavily to his son’s problems, and Jacki Weaver is the quiet strength in the home as the mom who is afraid that everyone that she loves is going to implode, but is willing to take the chance to bring her son home to heal.

After hearty applause at the end of the film, the audience was given an opportunity to listen and interact with a Q&A panel that consisted of Bradley Cooper, Jacki Weaver, writer/director David O. Russell, producer Donna Gigliotti, producer Jonathan Gordan, editor Jay Cassidy, ACE and editor Crispin Struthers.

Cooper spoke quietly about how both the film and the character have taught him a lot about mental illness and how we as a culture are uncomfortable with it. He said that he had done two tours with the USO in Afghanistan but never really thought about the impact of the war on those returning home until he visited the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington to show the film to what they thought would be around 50 vets and ended up being closer to 200 vets and their family members.

Moderator Pete Hammond mentioned at this point that the film makers had been invited by Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, who has a special interest in working to improve conditions for those with mental illnesses, to screen the film at the White House.

When asked about the process involved in editing the film, director Russell said that he welcomed the input from others on the film and both editors Cassidy and Crispin said the since Russell’s style was to never turn the camera off, there was an “embarrassment of riches” when it came to the amount of scenes they had to work with.

An interesting moment that quite illustrated the theme of the film came at the end of the Q&A period when a young man stood up with his hand raised high and was called on as the last question for the evening. He mentioned that he had not really planned to see the film because he thought it was “just another chick flick” but instead he found himself understanding, through the film, some of his own issues with anger and being diagnosed as bipolar. As his enthusiasm for the film carried him away you could hear the echoes of Cooper’s character in his voice and also feel the tension in the audience of dealing with someone who was not following the typical societal rules. Finally someone yelled out, “Hey! What’s your question?” and the man stopped abruptly and said, “I just wanted to say thanks.”

Producer Gigliotti mentioned that this film would never have been made by a large studio and it was due to Harvey Weinstein that they were where they are today, a film that has been nominated for eight Academy Awards.

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