It’s been an amazing season for mainstream movies. Argo, an incredible backstory to the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Lincoln, a transporting journey with the President during his fight to pass the 13th Amendment. Skyfall, arguably the best Bond movie ever. The list of cinematic gems goes on and on.
In particular, one of them resonated on many levels, most of all the local level. Silver Linings Playbook may be the quintessential Philadelphia movie (I know, Philadelphia Story it ain’t). If you haven’t caught it yet, please do, because it is a marvel on so many levels, not the least of which is how families and individuals grapple with mental illness, a matter that really matters especially at this sad moment in America.
David O Russell is a moviemaker who understands how much place plays a vital role in films. His last film, The Fighter, captured the down-on-its-luck industrial grittiness of Lowell, MA. Here, in Silver Linings Playbook, he absolutely nails the identity that an NFL franchise gives to its citizens. Along the way, he takes us on a wonderful visual tour of the city and Delco neighborhoods.
Philly may be behind other cities on a variety of initiatives, but it has long been way ahead in having its own film office to attract movie and tv production to our town. The list of films set here for all or part of storylines is long and memorable. Credit Sharon Pinkenson and all the leaders who have supported her efforts to land location shootings as a way to showcase tourism and civic pride in our town.
In Silver Linings Playbook, Russell has assembled a great foundation adapting Matthew Quick’s novel, and a stellar A-list cast with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as the romantic leads and note-perfect supporting performances by Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Anupam Kher, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker and others. Cooper and Lawrence do a sensational job of conveying a full range of emotions and human frailties while finding themselves and each other amidst a lot of wreckage from past events.
Not surprisingly, it is Philadelphia Eagles football that is the glue that binds the Solitano family together, so much so that Pat Sr. (De Niro) can only watch the games from home, because of all the fights he has gotten into in the stands (sound familiar, Philly faithful?). Russell really manages to spotlight the crazy streak that sports fandom generates. Fortunately, the story is set in a happier time —2008, a year when the Phils were World Series victors and the Eagles managed to make it to the conference championship game.
Perhaps the final gift that Silver Linings Playbook gives is that it helps Eagles fans forget for a little while the debacle that this season has been and which will likely lead to the departure of head coach Andy Reid, whose prior record more than speaks for itself, although no one says it so eloquently as Bill Lyons.