The entire buzz generated from Silver Linings Playbook was from surprise Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence and for the film being Oscar-nominated in every other major category. In truth, it was the male performers which should have garnered those recognitions; Bradley Cooper has truly transcended beyond his supporting roles in ensemble pieces to become a genuine leading man, while Robert De Niro produced some of his best work in years.
It begins with Pat (Cooper) being discharged from a mental institution by his mother (Jacki Weaver) to the surprise of his father (De Niro). We learn Pat was committed because he caught his wife cheating and nearly beat her lover to death. Somewhat delusional, he still loves her and intends to win her back. All this is thrown into chaos when he meets Tiffany (Lawrence), his good friend’s sister-in-law.
Coincidentally, Tiffany also happens to be suffering from some psychological problems due to the premature death of her husband, resulting in her becoming a sex-addict. They begin to interact with each other on a consistent basis, finding solace through jogging and then dancing. With various characters pushing them along, could these lost souls be destined for each other?
Based on novel of the same name, Pat’s bipolar issues transfers endearingly well from book to screen. Director David O. Russell (The Fighter) has previously shown he can form a sympathetic bond between traumatised characters, and this is certainly no different. Lawrence is an actress beyond her years, and those questioning the age gap between her and Cooper will soon realise how trivial that issue is. From their first meeting they produce engaging and distinct conversations, and the chemistry is altogether unique that you soon forget early on that he asks the question, “how old are you?”
There’s stellar support too. The calibre of De Niro always helps and showing that, as Pat’s father, he also has problems – OCD and gambling – forms their fraught relationship, even becoming the catalyst for the finalé. Jacki Weaver provides the amusing buffer between both of them, while Chris Tucker pops up as Pat’s best friend from the Institution, Danny, in a restrained and surprisingly likeable part. Audiences may notice Julia Stiles, and it’s a wonder how far she’s fallen off the radar. Tiffany would have been the kind role she would’ve been vying for when she first burst onto the scene, yet here she is in an unnoticed role as Tiffany’s controlling older sister.
But the main focus cannot be digressed too far from Cooper, who is a revelation in a sparky performance full of zest and wonder. With Lawrence not too far behind, and De Niro reminding us he still cares for his art, those three form the heart, soul and spirit of the film.
For all of the outstanding acting, however, it does not necessarily mean this filmis for everyone. It’s not really a rom-com despite its marketing and neither is it a hard-hitting social commentary on how to handle mental health issues. Then there’s the constant references to American Football which may become tedious to those unfamiliar to it such as us on this side of the pond.
Fundamentally though, Silver Linings Playbook it is a feel-good movie of the screwball comedy-type – quirky, different, and deservedly praised. Cooper and Lawrence make an enchanting couple in the midst of insanity, and, whatever your feelings on the film as a whole, there’s only one word to describe them: Excelsior.
[box_help]Did you know? During Halloween when Pat and Tiffany walk past a cinema it is advertising as showing The Midnight Meat Train – an early Brad Cooper horror film.[/box_help]