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Silver Linings Playbook-Cinematography

"Photography is truth.  The cinema is truth 24 times per second."

Jean-Luc Godard.

It comes as no surprise that I made a point of watching 'Silver Linings Playbook', directed by David. O Russell for the one and only  reason that Bradley Cooper is the lead.  I admire his ease and fluidity as an actor in front of the camera, coupled with the control that his eyes muster with each line of dialogue that he delivers.  'Silver Linings Playbook' revolves around Bradley Cooper who plays Pat Solitano, a teacher with Bipolar disorder who has been released from the psychiatric hospital, under the care of his mother, Jacki Weaver and his father, played by Robert De Niro.  He is determined to win back his ex wife, but in the interim meets Tiffany Maxwell, played by Jennifer Lawrence, a recently widowed sex addict who tells him that she will help him get his wife back, providing he enters a dance competition with her.  It is a feel good story by the end with some troubling moments in between particularly in coming to grips with the mood extremes experienced by Tiffany and the high and lows encountered by Pat.   Nevertheless, I found myself watching and focusing on the cinematography itself and following the camera work which contributed greatly to the telling of the story.  I may add that Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for Best Actress, and yes, her acting was superb, but none of this could have been possible without the intimacy that the cinematographer created throughout the film.

Masanobu Takayanagi, has been Director of Photography for features for a couple of years now, more recently The Grey (2011), and Warrior (2011).  What struck me the most about the cinematography for 'Silver Linings Playbook', was the camera work and the colouring that changed as the film progressed, or as the story unfolded adding to the essence of what the director was trying to portray.

In the beginning as the audience is introduced to Pat, and his consequent issues, the camera moves nervously from character to character, especially when he has his manic episodes, yet as the story moves to show the love interest between Tiffany and Pat, the camera eases into slower, more controlled, movements reflecting the connection between the two and the triumph of their love.  It is simple yet effective.

In looking forward to my films, I will ask these questions...will the camera portray sharp angles, movement, panning, height, static control, continuity, effective composition?  Will it do this for one reason show the director's vision?  It must, and then, only then, will the story come alive and allow the actors to bring forth a dimension to life that will surprise the audience.  Takayanagi has done a superb job as cinematographer in 'Silver Linings Playbook', and no doubt contributed to the overall success of the film.  He was able to push the boundaries and explore the potential of the camera.  He gave the audience truth 24 frames per second.  Enough for me to come away thinking that I had just watched a very good film.

Stella Dimadis 2013


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