Review of Silver Linings Playbook

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This 2012 David O. Russell-directed flick, based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick, tells the story of a former teacher who, after spending four years in a mental institution, moves back in with his mother and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Bradley Cooper & Jennifer Lawrence star in the lead roles, with Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Julia Stiles, and Chris Tucker playing supporting parts.
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Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook- A romantic comedy seems like a step backwards for director David O Russell, he of the existential comedy “I Heart Huckabees” and gritty family drama “The Fighter”. But his adaptation of Mathew Quick’s novel of the same name is a true winner; a wonderful balance of romance and uplifting drama. And how about Bradley Cooper 2.0? “Silver Linings” asks him to really act and he’s perfect.

He plays Pat Solatino, a bi-polar Philadelphia man who spent 8 months in a Psych facility after a brutal beating put on his wife’s lover. Pat’s released into the hands of his long-suffering parents (Robert DeNiro, Jackie Weaver), who are continually woken up in the middle of the night for another of Pat’s rants (one about Hemingway is very funny, another shows the ill-effects a disease like this can have on the family). His newest plan to win back his wife is to act as caring neighbor to Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a widow who also lost her job by sleeping with everyone in the office to distract herself from her husband’s death.

Cooper does such a great job with Pat’s mania, his out of control anger, goofy nature, and vulnerability but this romance doesn’t work nearly as well if Lawrence doesn’t match him in intensity every step of the way. The two are a whirlwind of crazy, going to places of inappropriate honesty and prickly defensiveness while still keeping the underlying feeling that these two need each other front and center. This is first-rate acting. Ditto for Robert DeNiro (a superstitious Philadelphia Eagles fan with OCD). I don’t know who finally woke him up from his slum-ber but he gives another lively, touching performance this year.

“Silver Linings” sounds like it may be rough going but honestly it reminded me a lot of “Little Miss Sunshine”. In fact, it also ends with a wacky competition sequence (dancing as opposed to beauty pageant). It’s an accessible, heartfelt, and eccentrically funny film about people who you wouldn’t normally think of when it comes to the word normal but who feel that that’s just fine anyway.