Posts Tagged With: movie reviews

Silver Linings Playbook Delves Into Stigma Of Mental Illness

Let me start by saying I find Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper to be highly skilled and enjoyable actors to watch. Silver Linings Playbook is no exception — both actors play the roles so well you feel their pain.

But, the movie really is a walk on the dark side. It is a starkly realistic view of mental illness and of a person’s unhealthy ability to latch onto an unrealistic and unattainable goal.

The story opens with former teacher Pat Solitano (Cooper) being released from a mental institution. As the story unfolds, you learn that after severely beating his wife’s lover, in lieu of jail time, Pat is offered treatment. When he arrives home, his mental illness seems to be, at least in part, fostered by parents who also suffer from lesser degrees of mental illness.

Despite his eight months in the hospital, Pat is convinced he and his wife will reunite. When he is set up on a dinner date with Tiffany (Lawrence), who also suffers from mental illness — triggered by the death of her husband, Pat is pulled into a dancing project. In the process, Pat and Tiffany slowly develop a relationship.

The darkness in the movie comes from the frank — and often disturbing reactions — Pat has along his path to creating a strategy for dealing with his illness. The movie does not pretend that Tiffany and Pat have a healthy relationship — or even that there is long-term hope for the pair. Instead it relies on an almost documentary style approach to telling their stories.

They score a few small victories along the way, but the struggle outweighs any good they draw into their lives.

Take Away
At its core Silver Linings Playbook is a love story. Even though it is not a feel-good movie, the film does offer a glimpse inside mental illness and the affect it has on family members.

Rated 3.5 out of 5.

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The Giver: Movie Effectively Delivers Dark Message

200px-The_Giver_CoverI read The Giver when my daughter read it for school and was impressed by how Lois Lowry delivers such a dark message in a powerful way.

The movie also accomplishes this very well, even though, it does not follow the book.

The story centers around the teenager Jonas — a messiah figure — who as a Receiver must take in all the memories of past societies so normalcy can be maintained in the current world. Long before Jonas was born, city elders had created a society where sameness, truthfulness and conformity ensured humanity would never fall to the ills of war, pain or any other negativity caused by an emotional reaction to life.

The story is dark and thought-provoking as one learns that society’s woes, like murder, have simply been replaced by government-sanctioned killings. Less desirable members of society, whether they are the elderly or non-thriving infants, are sent to Elsewhere. One of the most disturbing moments in the story is when Jonas realizes that his father, a caretaker in a children’s nursery, culls young infants from society by euthanizing them.

Despite a strong performance by the Giver (Jeff Bridges), the chief elder (Meryl Streep), Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) and Fiona (Odeya Rush) the movie failed to draw a large crowd on its opening weekend. This could be an indication of viewer fatigue with young adult dsytopian society movies — like Divergent and Hunger Games — or the fact that The Giver is more cerebral, making it somewhat more difficult to transition to the large screen.

But, having watched all three of the movies, The Giver holds its own very well. No, it is not the book, but someone who has never read the book can watch the movie and will be pulled in to the jarring nonsensical approach to living that a society based on sameness and ‘reason’ creates.

And everyone will be hoping Jonas can handle the weight of his calling and that he can save the life of the infant boy, Gabriel.


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The Way, Way Back is A Must See DVD

Review of latest cable offering: The Way, Way Back

The Way, Way BackThe Way, Way Back delves into the familiar territory of coming-of-age stories, but with its highly-talented cast and well-written script — it does what so few do anymore — it entertains.

The mood of the story is instantly set when Trent, played by Steve Carell, asks Duncan (Liam James) — the teenage son of the woman Trent is dating — how he would rate himself on a scale of 1-10. Duncan is relunctant to answer, but when Trent refuses to let the subject go Duncan finally says six — to which Trent responds, I see you as a three.

With that they continue their drive to Trent’s beach house where Duncan is exposed to two new experiences. The first is the adolescent behavior of the adults in his life and the second — the adultlike wisdom of the manager at the local water park where Duncan is given a job (and finds acceptance). Even though the water park manager has held on to his youthful ways a little too long, he is exactly what Duncan needs — and through his humor and friendship he helps Duncan find his way in the world.

Although, The Way, Way Back is a feel-good movie, it has enough drama to keep it balanced and with its steady supply of humor you keep smiling as Duncan finds his way through the pain of growing up as an awkward kid.

Rated PG-13 for language.

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