After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own. [Via IMDb]
This is the film to watch in this year’s Academy Awards. I know, it’s a far cry for a comedy to win an Oscar. This is not your typical romantic comedy, or dramedy, by any means. It’s smarter and deeper than almost any other of its kind.
Bradley Cooper defies his “guy-you-love-to-hate” film persona (a departure from the lovable Will Tippin in Alias) by giving us a more vulnerable, multifaceted character. He depicts a complexity that I’ve wanted to see from him for quite some time. Even a nomination would finally propel him out of the hatable jock-jerk roles that he’s played in most of his previous films. He shifts between stability and volatility, rages and fearful tantrums, all the while focused on the impossible task of winning back his unfaithful wife.
Likewise, it’s refreshing to see that Jennifer Lawrence is now allowed to emote. I’ve known she was a great actress for awhile, advocating for her to take on the role of Katniss after Winter’s Bone. This is a whole new Jennifer Lawrence, and I love her. There are some moments where she teeters just on the edge of rationality, stepping over that line for the moment and pulling back just before she goes over. Furthermore, her chemistry with Cooper is palpable and captivating.
Finally, Robert de Niro is a human being. He does not fully shed his tough guy attitude, but he allows us a rare glimpse at a soul. His flawed characters are usually only faulty in their own “I’ll-kill-you-at-the-drop-of-a-hat” ways. Here, however, as Pat’s father, de Niro demonstrates the source of many of his son’s problems, and his performance is one of his best.
This is an offbeat drama with comedic and romantic elements. However, don’t let that mislead you to think that this is just another shallow film. It’s got depth of emotion with an edge that is entirely satisfying. This is 500 Days of Summer meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and it’s one of the best films of the year.