After deciding to save Nativity 2 for next week, I took a chance on this as a Jennifer Lawrence fan. I was a little concerned as director David O Russell is an erratic film maker whose films and characters are not always likeable. Add in Bradley Cooper, who I loved in Alias but have not enjoyed on the big screen. It may be blasphemous to say, but I have always considered Robert DeNiro over rated, and positively PAINFUL to watch for about the last 20 years - King of Comedy was the last time he was good IMO.
Next problem, a film that takes mental illness and romantic comedy and mashes them up. Um, really?
However, despite these concerns, this film is surprisingly enjoyable. For a start, the performances are uniformly excellent. Jennifer Lawrence proves herself once again one of the best young actresses around, DeNiro finds his mojo again, Cooper does well carrying the bulk of the scenes.
You are often made to feel quite uncomfortable during this film, which is not totally a bad thing. Don't know how accurate a depiction of bipolar disorder this is, but it is largely not used as a cheap comedy device thankfully. Nor are the characters freak outs treated as quirky and kooky, but genuinely troubling.
The device of having Cooper and Lawrence team up for a dance contest runs the risk of TV movie of the week 'dance cures all' theme. Cooper is dangerously close to being cured by the end, and the film's final message appears to be 'look, we are ALL crazy!' Which I am still unsure about.
Uneasy, but funny, touching but disturbing. This is a film that I think pushes boundaries, and still has me trying to decide if I liked it - as there is actually very little loveable, but a lot to admire.