David O. Russell’s adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel has received a huge awards push this season, becoming the first film since Reds in 1982 to receive nominations in all four acting categories. While the cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver all put in fine performances, it is hard to justify any of them as “year best” in what has been an incredibly strong year for American Cinema.
But, taken on its own merits, this is a solid, well-meaning and frequently endearing story of people battling past various forms of mental illness to form meaningful relationships with family and friends. It is genuinely funny at times, and also quite touching.
It’s biggest problem will be overhype from the Weinstein campaign machine, but in time, it will find its place as one of Russell’s lesser works, while reassuring De Niro fans that he has still got talent, and opening doors for both Cooper and Lawrence, who prove here their reach is wider than we have seen thus far.