David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper, the director and star, respectively, of Oscar darling Silver Linings Playbook headed to D.C. yesterday. They met with Vice President Biden to talk with him about the issue of mental health in this country. Biden, who invited Russell and Cooper alongside Senator Debbie Stebanow, has been part of an effort to improve our treatment of mental health in the wake of the Newtown shooting. After the meeting with Biden, Russell and Cooper helped Stebanow introduce the Excellence in Mental Health Act to the Senate.
Silver Linings Playbook features Cooper as a bipolar man trying to put his life back together after a violent breakdown and consequent stay in a hospital. Along the way, he meets and romances a depressed woman (Jennifer Lawrence). The movie’s approach to mental illness is weird, because it tries to be an accurate picture of what it’s like to live with those conditions, but it also has all the characters’ problems solved by a dance contest and falling in love. But whatever. If the input of Cooper and Russell (whose bipolar son moved him to direct the film) can help advance the cause of better understanding and treatment for the mentally ill, then all power to them. The EMHA bill is a worthy cause.