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Silver Linings Playbook Gets Raves

Manohla Dargis of the NY Times loves David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, making it a critic’s pick of the week. She says audiences are longing for a happy ending only Russell can deliver:

As its title announces, “Silver Linings Playbook” honks, waves and pleads for happiness. Not long into the story Pat angrily tosses out a copy of “A Farewell to Arms” and rails about Hemingway’s sucker-punch finale. The world, Pat yells — at his parents, the neighbors, us — is hard enough. It’s both comical and somewhat pitiful, but it also feels like an authorial declaration because it dovetails with Mr. Russell’s belief in joyous, transporting cinema. It’s no wonder that Tiffany shows Pat a clip from “Singin’ in the Rain,” that blast of pure euphoria. Happy endings used to be de rigueur in American movies, and while they often still are, the feelings accompanying them tend to feel as canned as Katherine Heigl’s laughter, maybe because filmmakers no longer buy them, or think that we don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a bleak, despairing cry in the dark as much as the next existentially anguished, post-film consumer, but there is a great deal to be said for delivering the bad news on screen with a pratfall. Mr. Russell’s affinity for sight gags and the slap and tickle that makes lovers of combatants derives from his affinity for screwball comedy, a genre that emerged in the 1930s and that he borrows for his own singular purposes. His movies embrace different problems and character types — a strung-out drug addict rather than an alcohol-soaked swell — but like the classics of the form, they have zippy, at times breakneck pacing, rapidly fired zingers and physical comedy that, taken together, reflect the wild unpredictability of the greater world.

And LA Times’ Kenneth Turan loves it as well:

“Silver Linings Playbook” is rich in life’s complications. It will make you laugh, but don’t expect it to fit in any snug genre pigeonhole. Dramatic, emotional, even heartbreaking, as well as wickedly funny, it has the gift of going its own way, a complete success from a singular talent.

That would be the gifted writer-director David O. Russell, whose triumph with “The Fighter” two years ago marked a return to form after a spate of lean years. Russell, whose early successes include “Three Kings” and “Flirting With Disaster,” always brings intensity and passion to the proceedings: We aren’t coolly observing life in his films, we are compelled to live it full-bore along with his characters.

And the Wall Street Journal calls it the “best of the year so far”:

What’s new about this film, which was photographed by Masanobu Takayanagi, is how full and thrillingly free it is: Mr. Russell’s control has become so confident as to seem loose, almost reckless. He has thrown drama, farce and comedy together with piercingly astute perceptions of mental illness, and topped the whole thing off with lyrical romance. One sequence toward the end feels like it was shot on an old-fashioned movie set; it’s a lovely grace note in the best movie so far this year.

It is currently scored at 82 on Metacritic.