Archive Review – “Silver Linings Playbook” (Director: David O. Russell)

Review first published 24/11/12

Silver Linings Playbook

Following a violent incident and a stint in a psychiatric hospital, former schoolteacher Pat Solitano is released into the custody of his parents.  In an effort to reconcile with his former wife, he befriends Tiffany, a young woman with problems of her own.

Based on Matthew Quick’s successful debut novel “The Silver Linings Playbook”, David O. Russell (“The Fighter”) directed and scripted this charming romcom/dramedy which focuses on mental health through the two lead characters in a no punches pulled fashion.

Bradley Cooper portrays Pat, a man with undiagnosed bipolar.  Cooper’s performance finely balances Pat’s emotions into a complicated whole – his anger, passionate love, misery, optimism, are bundled together into a sympathetic character which isn’t weak. The comedy in his performance comes from the character’s bluntness as he asks the questions which polite society usually leaves unasked.

Jennifer Lawrence continues her run of great performances in the role of Tiffany, a young widower whose problems have led her to have a head first honesty alongside conflicting emotions of equal power and passion as Pat’s.

An on-screen chemistry succeeds or fails in how the leads interact.  The relationship between Pat and Tiffany owes much to how Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence interact and, quite frankly, the chemistry between the two sizzles, particularly in the dance scenes between the pair which culminates in a competition which, despite the fact that Cooper and Lawrence have to portray two amateur dancers, has to go down as one of the energetic, life affirming and sexiest dance sequences that I’ve seen.

Pat’s parents are portrayed by Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver.  DeNiro gives an edgy performance in the role of Pat Sr. feeding from the plot point that the character appears to be an obsessive compulsive, especially when it comes to his “job” as a bookmaker on Philadelphia Eagles games.  Weaver portrays Dolores as a mother who simply wants the best for her son albeit in an overprotective manner.

Additional support comes from Chris Tucker making a witty, understated performance in the role of Pat’s fellow patient Danny, John Ortiz and Julia Stiles in the roles of Pat’s friend Ronnie and his wife Veronica,  Shea Whigham as Pat’s brother Jake and Anupam Khmer in the role of Pat’s therapist Doctor Patel.

However, I go back to the snappiness of the dialogue between Cooper and Lawrence as being the real soul of this film with raw emotion and humour in equal measure.

“Silver Linings Playbook” is being touted as THE feel good film for the year and based on this evidence I wouldn’t argue that point.  Humour, emotion, beautiful cinematography and a killer soundtrack, particularly in the final dance number, makes this film a great film to go on a date to.

Rating: 4/5

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