Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dear David O. Russell

Note to readers- I don't feel like there are any major spoilers revealed in this letter, but if you are really sensitive about that sort of thing, and you still haven't seen Silver Linings Playbook, then ere on the side of caution and don't read this until you've seen this very good movie.

Silver Linings Playbook is one of the better movies I've seen in recent memory.  The Golden Globes and Academy Awards seem to agree, having nominated your script and movie for top awards.  This does not mean that your movie is without fault.  Like any movie, there were technical gaffs, a few lines that fell flat, and a situation or two that rang false.  I am willing to let all of those go.  Well, all of those except for whatever genius you had onset that didn't bother to point of that Nnamde Asomugha and  Michael Vick didn't play for the Eagles in 2008, so no one should be wearing their jerseys in crowd scenes.  That sort of leads me into my point.  Not every single Eagles fan is a slandering, slobbering, medicated degenerate.  Cue all the jokes, har har har, but you really didn't have one single sane person rooting for my beloved Birds. 

The film starts off with De Niro talking about his new dream of opening a cheesesteak restaurant.  This, presumably, is because everyone in Philly either makes cheesesteaks or stabs nuns for a living.  Anyway, De Niro starts bashing Eagles wide receiver Desean Jackson for spiking the ball on the one yard line.   This is alluded to several times throughout the movie, but it is never fully explained.  I saw this movie with my friend Cindyloo, and she didn't understand what you were trying to get at.  This is the play, what would have been D. Jacc's first career touchdown-
The whole point you wanted to make, that De Niro's character tried to make several times, but which you couldn't be bothered to take the minute to elaborate, is that Jackson was a huge thing for the Eagles that year.  The only good wide receiver we had in ten years before him was Terrell Owens, and he ripped out our hearts and spit in the wound.  Everyone was thrilled to see what Jackson could do, and when he was finally given a shot, he acted like a cocky punk and worried more about swagger than the team.  That's what Eagles fans lamented, and that's what you didn't convey, the sense of heartache that we were about to be let down yet again by someone that refuses to live up to their potential.  It was an elegant metaphor that you slightly mauled, like a kindergartner trying to pet a cat "so it can feel it". 

You almost invert the movie Invincible.  That movie did a great job showing why we love the Eagles, and how there are real people beneath the bluster and all the stories of pelting Santa with snowballs.  Overall though, that movie was too treacly and ended up feel like the Disney movie it was.  Your movie, well, it wasn't treacly.  It had some real human emotion.  Lots of it, in fact.  So much, that every person that is ever seen in Eagles gear exhibits some disorder out of the DSM IV.  Bradley Cooper is bipolar, and his married friend seems to be so as well.  De Niro is almost cripplingly OCD and has severe rage issues.  The brother has some sort of dissociative disorder, or perhaps he is just poorly realized, poorly written, and underutilized.  I wouldn't think it was the latter though, since you are a genius filmmaker and never wrong, especially when you told George Clooney all he would ever amount to was being a TV actor.  Oh, and every Eagles fan in the parking lot outside of the game was either racist or ready to fight at the drop of a hat.  Way to make sure you weren't painting with broad strokes there, Davey. 

The biggest mistake you made was making a movie about Eagles fans where a pivotal tension point revolves around a game that any Eagles fan worth their salt remembers the exact frigging score of the game, even though it happened five years ago because the game was that awesome.  You also made a movie set in the Philly suburbs in the fall of 2008 and mention the Phillies winning the World Series ONCE, and that was IN PASSING.  That is akin to the old joke, "Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?"  People in Phillly were very excited about the Eagles that season, but not nearly half as thrillled as the first sports title we had seen in 26 years from the Phillies.  It seems ridiculous to me that you could almost emit that. 

Philadelphia sports fans have a very long memory for glory and for spite, Mr. Russell.  Luckily, you made an otherwise very good film, and we won't completely fault you.  You didn't make the film for just us, but I think it might have been better served had you kept us in mind more. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I appreciate your comments. I appreciate them even more if you sign in or let me know who you are. Otherwise I get paranoid trying to figure out who you are, and that ends up with me having to watch The Sandlot to calm myself down.