Silver Linings Playbook

Eight months ago, Pat Solitano, played by Bradley Cooper, found his wife in the shower with another man and had something of a psychotic break.  As the story begins he is getting out of the psychiatric hospital, where a plea bargain landed him, intent on moving on with his life without the use of meds, and winning his wife back.  He moves in with his parents, Pat Sr., played by Robert DeNiro and Dolores, played by Jackie Weaver.   

Eventually he meets Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who has psychiatric problems of her own.  The scene where they talk about the various side effects of the meds they’ve taken is hilarious.  Can two dysfunctional people make a go of it? 

Silver Linings Playbook is a smart and unsentimental romantic comedy.  The writer and director David O. Russell is known for more edgy material like Three Kings and Spanking the Monkey where the tone is a lot darker.  I wouldn’t have guessed that he could make a film as uplifting as this.  That being said, you should know that we’re a long way from a Kate Hudson or Sandra Bullock formula rom com.

One of the things I worry about in a project like this is the treatment of the psychotic main characters.  Do they become merely the butt of crazy people jokes?  The answer here is no.  They are people, more vulnerable than most, but they are fully characterized.  For instance it is made clear that Pat’s behavior improves when he relents and takes his meds.  The easy cliché would have been for him to prove he can make it without them but he’s just not ready for that.  The plot is advanced by Pat and Tiffany navigating the maze of each other’s quirks and neuroses, but they are shown to have strength and dignity.  It is a very strong script by the director and Matthew Quick.

I have always put Bradley Cooper in the more good-looking than talented category but he really nails this part.  He captures the person beneath the bi-polarity symptoms.  It was a surprise to me.  Ryan Gosling could not have done a better job.

Jennifer Lawrence turns in a similar performance.  She breathes life into her grieving damaged character.  Robert DiNiro’s roles have been more slumming than not these days and it’s good to see him play a character that challenges him even a little.  Pat Sr. is an Eagles obsessed man with anger issues of his own.  He can’t go to the games anymore because they’ve banned him from the stadium for fighting.  Jackie Weaver turns in a good performance as his longtime wife who long ago learned to live with her husband’s obsessions and has learned how to pick her fights.

There are so many bad rom coms and they always do such great box office because films are so rarely made for women.  It’s a shame that Silver Linings Playbook is relegated to the art house market.  It’s a film men and women will enjoy which makes it a perfect date movie and well worth seeking out.



1 Response to “Silver Linings Playbook”

  1. 1 missmufit November 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I loved this movie – I agree about Bradley Cooper I think this is a stand out role for him. Jennifer is a star! Very good casting.

    Here’s my review –

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