Can love cure a mental illness?
"No," director David O. Russell said during a question and answer session after a screening of his new film, Silver Linings Playbook, at the CineArts at Sequoia in Mill Valley Thursday night. "(But) it helps a little bit."
Russell and actor Bradley Cooper drew hundreds of movie buffs to the opening night of the 35th Mill Valley Film Festival. The evening began with a reception at the Outdoor Art Club, followed by screenings of Silver Linings Playbook and On the Road in San Rafael, and wrapped up with a red carpet downtown bash beneath the stars in Depot Plaza.
During a press conference at the opening reception, Russell said this was his third time at the MVFF.
"As you get older you appreciate things more," he said, calling Mill Valley a special place with a neighborhood feel and he's glad to know it's here.
"The Mill Valley Film Festival is a secret weapon," he said.
Cooper said it was his second time in the Bay Area, and Russell took him to his old neighborhood in the Marina in San Francisco, pointing out houses and landmarks from where he lived when he was about two to six-years-old.
"He starts regaling us with tales," Cooper said. "Like 'Joe DiMaggio used to live here.'" Cooper was doubtful, until neighbors came out and verified it.
The easy back and forth between Cooper and Russell indicated their synergy on the film's set in Cooper's hometown of Philadelphia.
"I knew Bradley had a lot of layers when I saw him in Wedding Crashers," Russell said during a press conference, then paused at the audience reaction. "Don't laugh."
When filming, Cooper said Russell brought a sense of reality to his acting, and pushed him, and the other actors, to levels that they perhaps have never been at before.
"He really just makes you live it," Cooper said. "It's so vulnerable and exciting."
Even Cooper's mom agreed when she visited him on the set, he said.
"'It's like you're not even acting,' Cooper said she told him. 'It's like how you talk to dad and me.' Which made him ask, 'What are you saying?'
Playing someone with a mental illness required a lot of research, and it's something that Russell and Robert De Niro, who plays Cooper's father, have both dealt with in family members.
"It was very personal for us," Russell said.
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