… and David O. Russell did Bradley Cooper a huge disservice.
(*Note* This is also posted on my Tumblr page – Watch With Kate)
David O. Russell is one of my favorite directors of all time. I don’t think the world of him as a person, but I usually admire his directing skills.
That being said, I think he missed the mark with Silver Linings Playbook.
On a whole, I liked this movie. I think it was really original when compared to other movies that are out right now. The characters were flawed in ways that interested me (for example, Copper’s character was an un-diagnosed bipolar person who just got out of a mental institution… he was there because he had nearly beaten another man to death. That other man was sleeping with Cooper’s character’s wife, but still… you don’t beat people within an inch of their life.) and there was a ridiculously adorable and awkward ballroom dance competition/sequence that had me laughing and cringing with secondhand embarrassment.
So, why do I think David O. Russell did Bradley Cooper a huge disservice when Cooper is likely going to get nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor?
Because that wasn’t Cooper up on screen.
Like, it was physically him, but he seemed to be channeling frequent David O. Russell movie star, Mark Wahlberg. From the body language, to the delivery of lines, the part of Pat had Wahlberg written all over it. I couldn’t shake this fact as I sat through the movie. And then, I come home and do a quick google search and found that Wahlberg was in talks for the movie at one point. And then it all made sense… Russell probably directed Cooper in the EXACT same way he would have done for Wahlberg. (Russell and Wahlberg worked on Three Kings, I ❤ Huckabees and The Fighter together.)
But, Bradley Cooper and Mark Wahlberg are two completely different actors and likely need to be directed in two completely different ways.
I’m not going to saw Bradley Cooper was “brave” for taking on this movie (I HATE when people say actors are “brave” for taking on a role… hate it), but it took balls to do what he did on screen and I admire the complete lack of vanity he had in the process.
What I mean is, you could tell they didn’t really bother hiding his facial scars. (I still remember reading in one of those People’s Sexiest Man Alive issues from awhile ago that Bradley Cooper had a lamp fall off the wall and onto his face when he was younger.) The wardrobe people also didn’t dress him in colors that would make his blue eyes pop. Usually actors with blue eyes are dressed in equally flattering shades of blue so their eyes sparkle and are extra swoony (see Paul Newman and Robert Redford in The Sting, or Daniel Craig in Skyfall). But in this film, Cooper’s eyes look gray and blah most of the film… which I was grateful for. This wasn’t a role where the audience is supposed to oogle Cooper’s good looks. It’s a film where you’re supposed to admire his talent. And Cooper proved that he was amazingly adept at channeling Mark Wahlberg.
It’s unfortunate. This was a good movie with good performances from the actors, but it could have been great. Cooper is a PHENOMENAL actor in comedy and drama (I had the pleasure of seeing him onstage in Three Days of Rain several years ago right after the popularity of Wedding Crashers. The man can act his face off in a drama. I’m glad he’s gotten to do more of them recently.). This film just did not use his skills in the way they could have been highlighted.
So, my hat is off to you, Bradley Cooper. I hope you get that Academy Award nomination. You’ll be up against Daniel Day-Lewis, so you probably won’t win, but it’ll be an honor to get nominated, and hopefully will be the first of several nominations that will head your way over the duration of your (hopefully epically long) career.