I had relatively low expectations going into this, as, despite the Oscar Nominations and the Golden Globe wins, it is after all a RomCom. Or is it? Actually, here’s a film that turns that genre on it’s head, and does something wonderful with it.
Pat Jr, played by Bradley Cooper, suffers from bi-polar, and newly released from a mental facility, returns to his parents home and starts to re-build his life. It soon emerges he has ALOT of problems. He is riddled with a deep obsession about his absent ex-wife Nikki. The mere sound of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cheri Amour” triggers acute mania. Even the simple act of reading a Hemingway book, in an effort to improve his cultural creds for Nikki, proves too much. Upon finishing ”A Farewell to Arms”, Pat throws the book through a window, then manically rants about the plot to his parents at 4am, all because he doesn’t like the ending.
It’s when he meets Tiffany, played by 22 year old Jennifer Lawrence that his life begins to turn. Tiffany herself is coping with many issues, the centre of which is the loss of her husband, after only three years of marriage. Her way of coping is to sleep with as many men as she can. As the film develops, it becomes clear that these two people have much to offer each other, and the film plays with the direction Pat may take. Will he pursue his obsession for Nikki, or will he open to the possibility of a new life?
The Pat character is wonderfully drawn as a decent guy trying to do the right thing. Someone who hates taking his meds because of the effect they have on him, but who believes completely that he is right and everyone else is wrong.
The performances are top notch. Bradley Cooper confounds our pre-conceived expectation of him as the jock from the Hangover movies. Jennifer Lawrence is outstanding, navigating her character through many facets of a complicated personality, the flirtatious seductress, grieving widow, she’s abrasive and troubled, but also downright funny. The supporting cast of De Niro, as the OCD Dad, and my favourite Aussie actress, Jacki Weaver, are both outstanding as the caring parents who have troubles of their own.
It’s film about many things, OCD, bi-polar disorder, family life but above all, it’s about having the courage to fall in love. It’s also very funny.
Great soundtrack too.
Go see this movie!