Although well received in the US, this strange, dark romantic comedy doesn’t translate quite so well to the UK, where its queasy handling of mental illness for laughs might seem a poor substitute for genuine, character-based humour.
Bradley Cooper stars as Pat, a teacher just released from hospital after an enforced eight-month stay for battering his unfaithful wife’s lover. Pat returns to the suburban home of his parents (played by Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver), determined to believe that his marriage can be saved, and a developing friendship with a friend’s similarly damaged sister-in-law (Jennifer Lawrence) inspires a plan that he thinks will make that happen.
The tone of the film never really settles, lurching from warm realism to uncomfortable caricature and outright ghastly zaniness, but the cast performs well within such limitations: Cooper looks but never feels too sympathetic as the boy next door with a psychotic edge, while Lawrence flat-out nails it as the girl with brains as well as issues.
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