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Sunday, 9 December 2012

Just Marking Time

There was a vague suggestion of the Walsall 10 miler today but I wasn’t serious. I think that’s too far too soon for me. L of course points out that I did 10 miles the other day... well yes, but it was in two chunks. Large chunks admittedly. Instead she can take me to the gym. It’s not often I say that.

I set out to do 15k on the gym bike, then round it up to 16k as that’s a nice round 10 miles and then, well let’s call it 20k that’s even rounder. So I’m quite pleased with myself in the end. I was just marking time really until L had finished her session but she ended up waiting for me.

What we don’t do is go to B&Q, which is the first time in weeks. I don’t know what this says about our relationship, whether it’s a good thing or not.

Then we head off to Cineworld on a ‘2 for 1’. Not that it is easy to get. They won’t accept our e-tickets because their scanner is broke and send us on a second gym workout of the day around the helter skelter insides of the Cornerhouse. Bit of a farce really.

We get in eventually, late but far earlier than most of the other customers, many of which arrive up to half an hour after the advertised start. They are obviously more frequent Cineworld visitors than us because they know exactly how long the tedious adverts go on for.

Luckily tonight’s file ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is well worth the wait. Written and directed by David O Russell, who made last year's memorable 'The Fighter', it is based on a book by Matthew Quick.

In it we follow Pat (Bradley Cooper) as he moves back in with his parents after spending eight months in a mental institution because of a violent outburst that occurred when he found a history teacher in his shower. Which isn't too outburst worthy until you realise this wife was in there too and their wedding song was playing on the stereo. A perfectly understandable reaction if you ask me.

Although now diagnosed as bipolar Pat is determined to get his life back on track and that includes reconciliation with his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee). There’s one major obstacle to this, she has taken out a restraining order against him. This though is something he thinks he can work round, just got to stay positive and look for the silver linings in life.

His recovery doesn’t seem to be going that well when he bursts into his parents’ bedroom at 4am ranting about Ernest Hemingway's failure to provide a happy ending to his novel ‘A Farewell to Arms’ before flinging the book through the (closed) bedroom window.

He may however be saner than his father (Robert De Niro), who himself has been prone to the odd violent outburst, getting himself banned from attending the Philadelphia Eagles games. He is totally OCD about the Eagles, bets on their games (he’s a bookie), wants his Pat to watch them with him as a good luck charm and to further Father-Son bonding.

A dinner party organised by his friend Ronnie, and Ronnie’s wife Veronica... introduces him to his saviour, although he wasn’t to know that then. This is the rather tasty Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence aka Katniss from The Hunger Games). She too has issues to deal with after the death of her husband. Seriously depressed by such a tragic event, her method of coping was to sleep her way through eleven colleagues at her office. That includes a woman, a fact that fascinates Pat. As he walks her back to her parents' converted garage where she lives, she offers him instant gratuitous sex but he is appalled and declines, one would assume because he's still hung up on his wife.

They forge a very unconventional friendship, often while jogging/arguing around the local neighbourhood. Him in his bin liner, her in an ever increasing selection of interesting Lycra. Though Pat maintains his distance, Tiffany is certainly looking for more than friendship and she agrees to deliver a letter to Nikki on Pat’s behalf if he helps her out... by agreeing to be her partner in a dance contest.

OMG, don’t do that, don’t dance. L will think I've brought her to a rom-com. They do though, Pat figures that not only will this enable him to communicate with his estranged wife; it will also impress her and show her how well he is recovering.

I thought this film would be complex but it isn't. The film is exactly what you would expect from one about bipolar men, depressed women, OCD fathers, American Football and ballroom dancing with a nod to Hemingway but I didn't expect it to be romantic. Well at least it’s ripped up the rom-com rule book. Then bugger, there's a happy ending as well, as these two damaged souls heal each other through their dancing... sounds dreadful doesn’t it.

It’s a great film though, great dialogue and some really great scenes. It just goes to show that despite everything, despite the dancing, there’s a silver lining in all of us, and never mind how quirky/complicated/weird the girl is, don’t worry about it (n.b. they’re all like that).

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper are both terrific. They are two central characters neither of which you want to throttle, which is a rarity these days. You care about what happens to them. The supporting cast is good too and it’s especially good to Robert De Niro with a great performance still in him.

Like Russell’s ‘The Fighter’ this surely will also be up for a few awards.

(Sunday 9th December)

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