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Russell: When love gets real and messy

Hollywood Film Awards 2012: Hollywood Director Award

“Silver Linings Playbook” may be the first film by David O. Russell (Hollywood Director Award) since the Oscar-winning 2010 “The Fighter,” but actually, it came first. “I had hoped to make ‘Silver Linings’ before I even knew ‘The Fighter’ was a real possibility. The script was waiting in my back pocket,” says the writer-helmer.

Several years ago Sidney Pollack, Anthony Minghella and Harvey Weinstein had acquired the Matthew Quick novel, with Russell to write it.

“It’s rare,” Russell notes, “to find a piece of material that hits so many chords you can personally feel. Matthew Quick’s novel knows his neighborhood’s world around Philadelphia very well, which I then related to worlds that I personally know (when) adapting the novel — to the people, feelings and situations I am most familiar with. It became Italian-American, which I know from my family, among many more specific, emotional and story adjustments.

“I related to the story and felt it was heartbreaking, but also funny — but from a real place, an emotional place, not trying to make jokes out of what is painful but how life can’t help being weirdly really funny at times while it’s also been kind of tragic or very stressful.

“My own son has been through challenging emotional trials, which means the whole family goes through it, and I related to that strongly.

“I was also drawn to the romance in the story. I like romance; the story is romantic from the same real, messy place.”

Russell found that making “The Fighter” “focused me creatively, as a writer and director. When I came back to ‘Silver Linings,’ I was able to keep rewriting and reshaping it better — about the family, the father role for De Niro, deepen things better, define the world better.”

The result is a film that’s already won the Audience Awards at the Toronto and Hamptons film festivals as well as three Hollywood Film Awards.

Hollywood Film Awards 2012
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