Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in this new dramatic comedy from director David O. Russell. Mr. Cooper is Pat, a bi-polar and depressed man who has been in a hospital for eight months when we first meet him. His mother, played by Jackie Weaver (so good in Animal Kingdom) brings him home to finish his healing process. There we meet his father, Pat Sr. played by Robert DeNiro. Pat's parents try their best to help him readjust to the world.
Ms. Lawrence is Tiffany, a young woman struggling with her own issues after the death of her husband. Tiffany and Pat are introduced at a dinner and the rest of the film centers on their growing relationship. Ms. Lawrence continues down a path of acting excellence since her debut in "Winter's Bone". While she may find herself in comedic situations, she plays Tiffany not for laughs or sympathy but rather very realistically. Mr. Cooper also shows much more depth than his recent string of comedies playing Pat as a very complex and damaged individual.
Chris Tucker, as Pat's friend with his own mental issues and Mr. DeNiro, with his bookie subplot add comic relief. Mr. DeNiro and Ms. Weaver play a very believable couple and should do more work together. Unlike his parent roles in films like "Meet The Fockers", Mr. DeNiro dials down the broad comedy and gives one of his best performances in years.
I found Mr. Russell's direction to be somewhat claustrophobic as much of the film is shot in closeup. This seems to be a deliberate choice I presume, to focus more completely on the characters. He wrote the screenplay as well, which has its flaws but the solid acting by his cast overcome the cracks. During the course of the film, I was disappointed with some disturbing scenes that are played for laughs albeit with a touch of sensitivity. In the end, the film does sneaks up on you, growing more likable as it goes and will eventually win you over.