Robert De Niro has done rabid obsession before. In "The Fan," he played a deranged baseball nut who commits murder in support of his favorite player. In "The King of Comedy" he portrayed a demented would-be comedian who kidnapped the TV host he worshiped. In "Taxi Driver" he was a psychopath driven to violence by unhealthy fixations on Cybill Shepherd and Jodie Foster.
Still, a question remains to be answered in Mr. De Niro's new movie, "Silver Linings Playbook": Can he summon the sick intensity required to portray a Philadelphia Eagles fan?
In "Silver Linings Playbook," director David O. Russell and his cast take on the challenge. The movie, which opens on Nov. 16, follows the redemption of Pat Solatano Jr. (Bradley Cooper), who returns to live with his parents (Mr. De Niro and Jacki Weaver) after being institutionalized for eight months. He has problems controlling his moods; he had brutally punched out the guy who was having an affair with his wife. Pat's family lives in a blue-collar Philly suburb and, like everyone else in the neighborhood and like fans in communities everywhere, lives its life during the fall and winter to the rhythm of the NFL schedule. To capture the vibe, Mr. Russell and his crew embedded in the working-class Philly suburbs of Ridley Park and Upper Darby and got to know people, the same way he had immersed himself in Lowell, Mass., to make the boxing movie "The Fighter."