There has been a lot of buzz about the movie Silver Linings Playbook for quite some time now since the film opened in larger markets almost two months ago. Now that it has been nominated for 8 Academy Awards local movie goers have finally been given the opportunity to see what all of the fuss is about. And let me tell you folks, this one is special and well worth the acclaim it's been given.
Silver Linings Playbook is an unconventional film that consistently defies expectations. On the one hand it is a sweet and charming romantic comedy about two people who suffer from bipolar disorder and depression discovering they are kindred spirits, and on the other hand it takes a dramatic and realistic look at the effects that mental illness has on individuals and their loved ones. But just to be clear, this movie is absolutely hilarious at times and I found myself laughing and smiling throughout the duration of the film.
Bradley Cooper stars as Pat Solatano, a teacher who's just been released from a mental institution where he had to serve 8 months on a plea bargain. He suffered a serious breakdown when he caught his wife cheating on him in the shower with one of her co-workers and nearly beat the man to death. Now, having lost his home, marriage and job, he hopes to start over - and that begins by moving back in with his parents.
Robert De Niro does some of his best work in years as Pat Sr., a hardcore Philadelphia Eagles fan who clearly struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder. You can see where Pat Jr. might have inherited some of his mental illness issues from. Jacki Weaver (who was tremendously chilling in the Australian film Animal Kingdom) is great as Pat's long-suffering mother. She just wants to make everyone happy and her ritual snack making for Sunday's games gives her a sense of routine and normalcy.
Pat is doing all the right things to get better - he goes to regular therapy sessions, he runs every day, and he's just trying to make himself a better person. Sadly though, he can't accept the fact that his wife wants nothing to do with him and he is determined to win her back, even though she has a restraining order against him.
One night, he attends a small dinner party thrown by his friends Ronnie and Veronica, whereby he meets Veronica's younger sister, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Tiffany has been recently widowed and fired from her job, so needless to say she is also floundering and somewhat mentally unstable. Tiffany and Pat hit it off with their unfiltered and inappropriate banter and a unique bond forms between them. She offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he will return the favour and help her with something that is very important to her.
Jennifer Lawrence is simply wonderful as Tiffany. She demonstrates a maturity beyond her years while at the same time striking a fine balance between crazy quirkiness and sweet vulnerability. You definitely want to root for her even if she doesn't always seem very stable. The friendship that develops between her and Bradley Cooper's Pat is fun to watch and you can see the chemistry that they have together. This is probably Cooper's best performance of his career and he is well deserving of his Oscar nomination.
Writer and director David O. Russell (Three Kings, The Fighter) does a brilliant job of finding the right tone for this film. Showcasing two mentally ill people falling in love could have become cringe-inducing or goofy but in his capable hands it never devolves into either. Instead, it is handled with realism, humanity and charm. This film has a real heart to it and more depth than you would find in most Hollywood romantic comedies.
By the end of the film I had a huge smile on my face and I literally felt like cheering. With superb performances by the excellent cast and smart, witty dialogue throughout, this film is easily one of the best of the year and one that I would highly recommend people seek out immediately.
Silver Linings Playbook was an absolute joy to watch and I loved everything about it.
I give Silver Linings Playbook a 9.5 out of 10.
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