DIRECTOR: David O. Russell
May Contain Spoilers!
David O. Russell was probably best know for his previous Oscar wining work, The Fighter (2010) and there’s no doubt that he earned those accolades. The same can also be said here. But the consistent thread running through his work is that the stories are relatively simple, leaving plenty of breathing room for his colourful but somewhat grounded characters. But this is a director who casts his films with an eye unlike most and draws some of the best performances imaginable from them.
Who would have pegged Bradley Cooper, famed for The Hangover movies and the new “Face” from the less than blockbusting 2010 A-Team reboot, would be Oscar bait but here he is and he’s great as the bipolar teacher who is trying to come to terms with his marital breakdown. He is being “helped” by an equally troubled young widow (Jennifer Laurance) who has fallen in love with him and is manipulating his need to see his estranged wife to get him to be her dance partner. Weird, yeah but you need to go with it because it all kind of makes sense… sort of…
The beauty of this film is that it relies on the performances and the actors to pull them off, which they do without a doubt but the script, though reasonably well conceived and delivering some left field plot twists and turns, not least the final dance scene, is not as strong, leaving the film with and uneven feel. It’s good, but it could have been better if it was a bit tighter but this cast make a group of relatively unlikable characters, likable and relatable which is quite a feat.
I feel that it this is somewhat overrated but still worth a watch and is far from a bad movie, though The Fighter is a better example of Russell’s work.