Tag Archives: bradley cooper

Limitless

15 Mar

Director: Neil Burger (2011)

Limitless_PosterLike so many of us, I often find that there are just not enough hours in the day. Or rather, my brain cannot keep up with the amount of things I want to do with every day. The result, I live my life as an erratic, perpetually unkempt woman responding to the question of “How’s things?” with an all too perfected automaton answer of “So great! Busy, busy, but you know how it is”. Ensure agreeable laughter, and off we go back to our all too busy lives.

If only there was a way we could adapt our bodies to cope with the stresses of life and work to milk those extra hours. Limitless suggests a possible solution. Pills. While there are those of us who already choose to self medicate with pharmaceuticals to recreationally or at the advice of medical professionals, none seem to offer quite the same benefits. But the cost of a prescription is never as high as price on these bad boys.

Eddie Mora (Bradley Cooper) is a writer on the edge. Meeting him for the first time standing precariously on the ledge of a skyscraper, it is clear this is a man looking for an out. Jumping back three months earlier, a slightly more bedraggled Eddie is getting dumped by his beautiful girlfriend, Lindy (Abby Cornish) and on his last legs with his editor as his book deadline looms. But, after a chance encounter with his drug dealing ex-brother-in-law, Vernon (Johnny ‘Empire Records’ Whitworth) things start to look up. Unveiling a mysterious pill, the catchily named NZT-48, allegedly fresh from the FDA approval list, Vernon introduces Eddie a pill that will change his life, allowing him to use the full 100% of his brain, not the meagre 20% on which the rest of us manage to function.
Obviously he takes it.

In a whirlwind of productivity resulting in the completion of his novel, expertly mastering the stock-market and the seduction of many a woman, Eddie’s eyes and synapses are opened. But, like every fable where man messes with nature, things soon go sour when the side effects of the pill turn out to be less than desirable…

While Bradley Cooper is his usual charismatic self, along with the welcome yet slightly inexplicable, addition of Robert de Niro, the plot is ultimately tired and predictable. On paper, the idea of a supergenius pill is ripe for the picking to merge science fiction with an almost dystopian context where we’ll do anything to keep up. In reality, there are just too many questions left unanswered; mainly any attempt at explaining how this magic pill works. Instead, we allow ourselves to suspend our disbelief and swallow the proverbial pill as Cooper’s charm entices us back in, but for me, this only went so far. As do superimposed visuals and shiny editing. Combine this with one of the most ridiculous ideas for narcotic ingestion and what we are left with is a film that should have been limited.

No doubt if I had a stash of NZT-48 I would have been able to come up with a better closing pun…

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Silver Linings Playbook

30 Jan

Director: David O Russell (2012)

Silver_Linings_Playbook_PosterA touching romantic comedy, about bipolar and mental illness? On paper, this does not sound too feasible. But in Silver Linings Playbook, David O Russell has flouted all my reservations and created a beautiful, inspiring and gently humorous film about the personal and familial struggles of mental illness in all its guises.

Pat (Bradley Cooper) has just been released from a psychiatric hospital, part of a court order after he beat his wife’s lover when he caught the two in the shower together. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Pat moves back in with his parents, played by Robert Di Niro and Jackie Weaver, determined to get his life back together and win back his wife. At dinner with an old friend, Pat is introduced to recently widowed Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who deals with her own depressive issues with a sex addiction rather than rage. In a deal that would normally reside in a plot for twee rom-coms primed and ready for the multiplexes, Tiffany promises to help Pat win back his wife if he enters a dance competition as her partner. But in Russell’s safe hands, the simple storyline becomes a catalyst to develop the building relationship between the two protagonists, alone in a world that doesn’t understand the way the feel – and is scared by what they think they know.

Winning herself an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, Jennifer Lawrence brings her usual feist matched with a realism and universal appeal to the beautiful and damaged Tiffany. Bradley Cooper balances his character’s need for control and order through exercise with his typically masculine bravado with a softer, more fragile persona. In this way, both Lawrence and Cooper capture the multiplicitous nature of mental illness – what we see on the outside is very rarely what is happening on the inside, complementing one another as they learn to deal with their conditions.

Silver Linings Playbook is driven by its strong cast who are expertly able to deliver the nuances and quirks of mental illness in a world that would rather ignore its existence. Brave and unapologetic for its portrayal of mental health in today’s society, Silver Linings Playbook is an important and uplifting revelation about those times when life doesn’t go to plan, and the people we meet who help us find the silver linings we need to get us through.