Silver Linings Playbook
- Director:David O. Russell
- Cast:Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Taylor Schilling, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker, Jacki Weaver
- Release Date:January 31, 2013
- Running time:122 minutes
- Film Worth:$18.00
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For all its eccentric touches, it ends up a surprising crowd-pleaser that’s smartly drawn, darkly humoured and emotionally satisfying.
Seemingly taking its cues from its central character – a bi-polar Bradley Cooper struggling to keep his emotions in check – David O. Russell’s latest feature swings from highs to lows, laughs to tears. And while more mainstream than his previous efforts that delve into relationships that border on the neurotic (Spanking The Monkey, Flirting With Disaster, I Heart Huckabees and even The Fighter one could say), it comes with all the director’s trademark humour that plays both smart and sweet, mad and loopy.
Based on Matthew Quick’s novel of the same name and adapted for screen by Russell, Silver Linings Playbook follows Pat (Bradley Cooper), a former substitute teacher who’s just spent the last seven months in a mental institution for assaulting his wife’s lover. He’s rescued from the clinic by his peacemaking mother (Jacki Weaver) but we, like Pat’s father (Robert De Niro), begin to suspect that it was perhaps a premature move. Pat finds an unlikely ally, however, in Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a feisty young widow who deals with her grief by sleeping with just about anyone, a trait that saw her recently fired. The two enter into an uneasy friendship premised on the strange arrangement that if Pat partners with Tiffany for an upcoming dance competition, she’ll help him get in contact with his wife who currently holds a restraining order against him.
While the film centres around two characters easily deemed “damaged goods”, Russell’s take on mental illness ultimately feels brushed with the hand of Hollywood. Their insanity serves as more of a device to pull these characters together, but that said, Cooper and Lawrence both turn in impressive performances layered with all sorts of tonal weirdness and sadness, and the central premise that these two characters – deemed outsiders to the rest of the world – might just be right for each other, is a touching one. And one of the best parts of the film is the richly developed secondary characters. While Pat and Tiffany might be the ones downing the anti-depressants, their friends and family members are gradually revealed to be floundering in other ways including Pat’s outwardly successful best bud (John Ortiz) who’s secretly unraveling, and his father (De Niro scores his most humane turn for years), a superstitious bookie whose obsessive passion for football becomes his only real way of communicating with his son.
In one hilarious scene early on in the film, an enraged Pat bursts in to his parents’ bedroom and rails against Ernest Hemingway’s heartbreaking ending in “A Farewell To Arms”. When the world is this tough already, he demands, why would someone pen this type of tragedy? It’s a hilariously earnest plea, but it also become somewhat of a mantra for this film, which churns towards a surprisingly crowd-pleasing closer. But that’s not such a bad thing. It may be a Hollywood comedy, but it’s one that feels beautifully alive.