Published on July 22nd, 2013 | by Allan Brown4
Silver Linings Playbook Review
Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Director: David O. Russell
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker
Plot: After losing his wife, house, job and spending eight months in a psychiatric institute, former teacher Pat (Bradley Cooper) now in the care of his parents believes he can win his wife back with the aid of a his new strange and mysterious friend, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence)
Director David O’ Russell has brought us a mixed bag of films over the years from ”Three Kings” to “I love the Huckabees” some notable while others questionable. In 2011 The Fighter, a film about the life and struggles of boxer Mickey Ward was met with critical and financial success. The movie was showered with Awards and Accolades for all involved suggesting David O’Russell was back on form. Now with “Silver Linings Playbook” released which had already created a buzz around the film festivals fair against O’Russells other work and more importantly, is it any good?
The Silver Linings Playbook opens after the events of what brought Pat (Cooper) to be institutionalized, leaving the audience in the dark (for now) as to why. This angle plays well in adding mystery and intrigue to the characters condition and ongoing situation, however as Pat tears his family’s house apart looking for his wedding video or bursts into his parents’ bedroom at 4am distraught and angry over the ending of a Ernest Hemingway novel leaves his character tricky to sympathise with.
Is Pats erratic behaviour with lack of source perhaps a smart, well played move by Russell? Does it force the audience to judge the character before fully understanding him, in turn holding the mirror up to the viewers suggesting we are too quick to judge? After all this is a film that deals with mental health problems, however lightly.
Silver Linings Playbook is a movie that dips its toe into a few genres throughout its narrative; however it is essentially a romantic comedy that has its feet firmly on the ground. Although it’s a story that deals with mental illness it is handled lightly and in broad strokes never allowing the subject matter to feel heavy, take over the story or get in the way of the characters.
We witness as Pat who firmly believes his marriage can be saved regardless of the restraining order his wife has out against him, goes about working out a plan to win her back. At dinner one evening Pat is introduced to Tiffany, an equally tortured soul who is dealing with the death of her spouse. We watch as these two eccentric characters strike up an unconventional friendship in which they both hope will help one another. From anger management issues, OCD, Bi-Polar disorder and a drive for perfection we are drip fed information of each character’s traits and flaws until you begin to question what actually constitutes mental illness.
The film offers some brilliant quirky comedy moments. The leads reactions to certain situations and to the people around them will have you in stitches. These are well written characters and it shines through with each actor. The dialogue between the two leads is especially frank, punchy, unconventional and at times hilarious. There are also some deeply powerful, heart-felt and emotional moments (De Niro) that feel effortless and natural. The chemistry on screen between all shines through and is the vigour of the film. Both Cooper and Lawrence show themselves to be strong front runners and worthy contenders for this year’s big awards.
While the film works well on many levels it does suffer in a few minor areas. Some of the characters, like Pat’s brother (Shea Whigham) and his outpatient friend (Chris Tucker), aren’t fleshed out or realised and drop in and out of the story without really impacting it at all. The film also nose dives into cliché at times, especially toward the final act which feels a little disjointed and only forgivable due to the strong convincing performances of its cast.
Summary: Silver Linings Playbook is a well written, intelligent, unconventional, romantic comedy that is a genuine heart warmer and another film that excels thanks to its strong lead characters.