Silver Linings Playbook

David O. Russell's new film, Silver Linings Playbook, starts off as a fairly tough-minded exploration of mental illness and its effect on a family but descends by the end into a swamp of meritricious moosh. Bradley Cooper does a fine job as the wackjob. His manic states are raw and disturbing because he doesn't overplay them, and he sure is easy on the eyes. But Cooper is constrained by Russell's belief, naive to the point of willful ignorance, that a couple doses of the right meds will confer upon those who pop them the ability to love honestly and without apparent self-delusion, not to mention a happy new wave of self-awareness that would take more than a week to achieve. As the film slides into thick gray soup, Russell's camera becomes all the more tasteless and dependent on empty effects. Hey, here's a new one: when the couple clinches near the end, Russell sends the camera flying around them in a 360-degree tracking shot of such delirious speed that I, for one, wanted to throw up - not from the motion, but from the emotion, or hack lack thereof.