Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

November 21, 2012 By Mike B
Movie Review

Silver Linings Playbook review

What Worked?

Most of us aren’t batshit crazy enough to notice the silver linings in tragedies because we’re too busy adhering to the grand plot of life. We don’t fit that plot and that plot doesn’t fit us; sometimes insanity, tragedy, or breakdowns are what we need to find the silver linings. David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, based on a novel by Matthew Quick, is about a mentally troubled man named Pat who has just got out of the loony bin and is still trying to cope with his harsh split up with his wife. Pat meets a very troubled widow named Tiffany, and they oddly enough help each other rebuild their lives. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert DeNiro star in this amazing dramedy.

Director Russell has adapted Matthew Quick’s novel into a brilliant script with dialogue that never fails to hold the audience’s attention, not just with humorous bluntness, but also with heartfelt, raw truths. Nothing in the film feels false or overly contrived, but it does have a sense of quirkiness that manages to charm throughout. There are nice little touches  in just the right moments in a calmly shot film. For example, the splicing-in of Pat’s traumatic memory of finding his wife cheating on him or the pull-back shot at the end when the kiss happens that makes it all the more magical, and not in a sappy kind of way either. This is an entertaining film all the way through, and a perfect mix of humor and heartfelt connections to the human condition.

This film contains some of the best acting of the year,  and there are some standouts that might get some attention come awards season. The one that deserves the Oscar buzz the most just might be Jennifer Lawrence, as she  plays the extraordinarily unstable Tiffany, the young widow that craves sex and distance. Lawrence is bold and cold in this role with a manic presence and oddness about her that you can’t help but be attracted to. She’s a woman with broken wings that sports them proudly. On the other hand, Bradley Cooper is a loser in love alone, with a mental instability that makes him frantic and electric at times. Cooper absorbs the role and becomes this unstable mess that is still trying to chase the past that’s already through with him. Cooper and Lawrence have seemingly genuine chemistry with each other in their respective roles of Pat and Tiffany. Both seem to awkwardly, but sincerely, fall for each one another.

The supporting cast is a hit, but there’s one standout that shines a bit brighter than the rest: Robert DeNiro. DeNiro  takes the supporting role as Pat’s father, Pat Sr, a die-hard fan of the Philadelphia Eagles with anger issues and a taste for gambling. DeNiro is hilarious as the superstitious Eagles fan, but when it gets to the father-son issues, he breaks our hearts with his ferocity and his humility.

Silver Linings Playbook is a film that is unfiltered in its voice, just like Pat and Tiffany. It’s not a film telling us who we should be, but it tells us how life is in a voice that is not corrupted by shame or embarrassment. Betrayal is one of the most toxic things to endure in life, but taking  a play out of Pat’s book and striving to dig for the positives in tragedy is what helps you get through it.

Potential Drawbacks:

Tiffany and Pat are entertaining characters, but both are train wrecks that some might not be able to connect to, leaving them to just be a nuisance. They are both mentally unstable, and some might grow bored because they’re overly odd and quirky. The success of the film is based on the viewer’s ability to connect with the characters, and these characters may be entertaining, but it may take a little effort to get into their shoes.

Some believe that this could’ve been a little better than it was, as it falls into the mainstream romantic comedy story by the end. The happy ending may work for some, but might put off others.

Film Recommendations:

The Fighter

I Heart Huckabees



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