You may remember that I got diverted from this film a few weeks back (because it was sold out), so I went and saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey instead, which I already posted about.
What I've forgotten to do (until now) is to come back and tell you what I thought about the movie. If you don't care, that's perfectly fine - feel free to move along. But I figured I'd not only tell you about the movie, but about my conversation with 18-yo M about the movie. You see, she also read the book, and unlike most times when that occurs, she is of the opinion that the movie is far better.
I have always thought that Bradley Cooper was kind of cute, in a regular-guy-but-cute sort of way. He pulled off the charming-but-flip "Face" in the A-Team revamp really well, and is best known for his turns in The Hangover franchise. But this movie proves that he has superior acting chops, and his Oscar nomination is well-earned. Were it not Daniel Day Lewis's year to win All The Things, Bradley Cooper would give Hugh Jackman a run for his money as best actor. He plays a guy with bipolar disorder who starts the movie off his meds and obsessed with the idea of getting his wife back. (She has a restraining order against him, and it's pretty clear it's much-needed.) His personal progress throughout the course of the movie is well-done all around, with the reigned-in scenes being just as compelling (but nowhere near as mind-blowingly scary) as the more unhinged parts.
Jennifer Lawrence, last seen playing Katniss Everdeen in THE HUNGER GAMES, is amazing as a young widow with a reputation for sluttiness. (People work their way through grief in a lot of ways in this movie, as in life, and I guess that's part of the movie's appeal.) Her performance was ballsy and brittle and broken and completely perfect, and it's no wonder she's been winning Best Actress in the early award shows. Also, the chemistry between the two characters is undeniable, as is the chemistry between Cooper and his parents, played by Robert DeNiro (who is brilliant and earned that Supporting Actor nomination) and Jacki Weaver (also excellent and deserving of her nod as well).
Now, M had seen the movie before she went with me. And then she'd read the book, which had a couple of key differences. For one thing, the main character in the book is brain-injured, not bipolar - something she had to piece together over the course of the book, since he's the narrator. For another, the dance competition that you may have seen advertised (and which had me and much of the rest of the audience enthralled and in stitches), which takes place at the end of the film, is, according to M, a sort of minor event in the middle of the book. And the conclusion of the book, which is somewhat like the conclusion of the movie in the way the characters wind up, is much less purposeful and more shruggish (again, according to M).
She felt that the decision to change the character's issue to manic depression was a good one, and that the decision to have the dance competition be the end was brilliant. Based on her comments (which were much more detailed, but *spoiler spoiler spoiler*), I have to agree.
I am somewhat gobsmacked to report that I've seen several contenders for best film this year, which isn't always the case: ARGO (love it, and totally think Ben Affleck should've been nominated for Best Director), LES MISERABLES (liked it a lot, and Anne Hathaway should win Best Supporting Actress or there is no justice in this world), LINCOLN (amazingly good), and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (also amazingly good).
Interestingly, what has stuck with me most after the movies is the whole idea of ARGO, Anne Hathaway's performance as Fantine in LES MIS, and how completely remarkable Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence (and the rest of the cast, really) were in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. Yeah, Daniel Day Lewis so completely inhabited Lincoln that it felt as if he was Lincoln and wasn't acting, but Bradley Cooper's damaged, beautiful performance is truly spectacular.
I'd be interested to hear what you think, if you've read the book. And, of course, what you think about the movie, if you've seen it.