Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

(M) Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jackie Weaver

It’s not often that you encounter something truly original at the movies these days. Particularly not in the “boy meets girl” romantic comedy genre — one of Hollywood’s most generic forms. But originality is exactly what we get from David O. Russell (director of The Fighter) in his latest film Silver Linings Playbook.

Pat and Tiffany are an engaging, if unconventional, romantic pairing. Pat has Bipolar disorder and has just been released from a court-ordered stint in an institution. He has moved back in with his parents and is determined to win back his wife. He has a new outlook on life; it is all about finding your silver lining. He meets Tiffany, who is not as easily diagnosed as Pat but is also a damaged soul, and the two strike up a friendship.

We’ve never seen characters like these before on the screen, at least not presented in the way they are here. Silver Linings Playbook removes the “otherness” from mental illness, encouraging us to identify with Pat and Tiffany.  

Russell’s excellent screenplay is brought to life by a series of really strong performances. In fact, Silver Linings Playbook became the first film in 31 years to receive Oscar nominations in all four acting categories.

Bradley Cooper has been a movie star for a while now, but has seldom been required to do much more than be charming and look handsome. His performance as Pat is a revelation, showing us something of his talent which I doubt many of us knew was there. He gives Pat has an unnerving intensity even in his positivity.

Jennifer Lawrence is one of the real up-and-coming talents in Hollywood and plays the perfect foil to Cooper’s Pat.

Australian actor, Jacki Weaver, is fantastic as Pat’s doting mother. So, too, is Robert De Niro as Pat’s ultra-superstitious and obsessive compulsive father. This is a role worthy of De Niro’s enormous talent; the first, it seems, for decades.

I referred to Silver Linings Playbook as a romantic comedy but feel that kind of pigeon-holing really undersells the complexity and depth of this film. It is wickedly funny, and at its centre is a relationship between a man and a woman, but it is also at different moments sad, uplifting, concerning, charming and poignant.

It is a beautifully-crafted film that will really stay with you.

Duncan McLean



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