Having just finished a sentence at a mental facility in Baltimore, Pat gets picked up by his mother to return home to Philadelphia. Upon his return, he exclaims that he has a new perspective on life and wants to better himself to reunite with his estranged wife. With a restraining order in place and an officer assigned to his case, Pat continues to work out and read through the syllabus of his wife’s high school English course. After he is inviting over to a friend’s house, he meets Tiffany, who seems to have some similar mental and emotional challenges. She begins to stalk him while he is out running and convinces him to take her out on a date. It is at that point that the two of them begin to devise a plan to get a letter to Pat’s wife, but only after Pat agrees to join Tiffany in a dance competition. Meanwhile, Pat Sr. struggles with his gambling over Philadelphia Eagles games in order to gain enough money to open a restaurant.
Starring: Bradley Cooper (Pat), Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany), Robert De Niro (Pat Sr.), Jacki Weaver (Dolores), Chris Tucker (Danny), Anupam Kher (Dr. Cliff Patel), John Ortiz (Ronnie), Shea Whigham (Jake), Julia Stiles (Veronica), Paul Herman (Randy), Dash Mihok (Officer Keogh), Matthew Russell (Ricky D’Angelo), Cheryl Williams (Tiffany’s mother), Brea Bee (Nikki)
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are quite captivating as they portray two individuals on the mend of significant life challenges. Cooper represents a great dichotomy between his manic and controlled selves. Lawrence shows the depth of despair associated with a women in recovery from loss, particularly in her moments of frustration and aggression. She turns out one of the most impressive scenes of the film in a fight with De Niro. Tucker is also quite a fun character, always in a positive mood and somewhat deceptive in his numerous escapes from the facility.
David O. Russell has posted a number of memorable films, including The Fighter and I Heart Huckabees, and this one does not disappoint. While Pat is released from the facility, he was not fully recovered from his moment of insanity that caused him to go for treatment in the first place. After finding Nikki with another man and beating him to within an inch of his life, there were few people that believed that he would get better. It took meeting Tiffany for both of them to start to recover from their issues. Tiffany was a little more aware of what she wanted and how she wanted to get it, but in order for her to get Pat to notice her more, she tricked him into becoming her dance partner and agreed to play into his need for believing that Nikki was aware of his recovery and desire to reconcile. Pat was so focused on Nikki that he did not even pay attention to Tiffany’s devotion to him.
Mental illness is tough to overcome because there are so many different ways to treat similar challenges. While Pat Sr., Pat and Tiffany all experienced anger and rage, each of them approached their problems in dramatically different ways. For Pat Sr., he kept himself occupied and had a number of OCD tendencies related to his following of the Eagles. Pat situation was more complex, as he was triggered by extreme stress and hearing his wedding song (whether it was actually playing or not). Trying to maintain a positive attitude was not always possible, so he occasionally took his medication and started to use the dance instruction with Tiffany as a coping mechanism. Tiffany fixated on Pat as her past attempts of taking medicine were not successful and she continued to fall back into her old ways by calling her former coworkers for sex. Dancing was also a great coping mechanism for her and pulling Pat into the mix gave her more motivation to continue her dancing while also getting to spend more time with someone with whom she had become interested.
This is a charming, humorous account of a man’s recovery from mental illness and a love story that takes a nontraditional path to get to its hopeful conclusion.
Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5