Rarely, there is a movie that critics and the movie going audience can agree on. I have read a lot about Silver Linings Playbook. Critics love it and it has already won awards and many nominations. I had high hopes when I finally had the opportunity to see it. I was not disappointed.
Silver Linings Playbook, based on the book of the same name by Matthew Quick, is the story of Pat (Bradley Cooper) whose wife has an affair. The event is exacerbated by his undiagnosed bipolar disorder. After attacking the man involved, Pat is sent to a mental institution to get his disorder under control. The movies begin as Pat’s mother checks him out of the hospital against the advice of his doctor. Pat must struggle to put the pieces of his life back together.
Very quickly, viewers notice that Pat inherits his mental issues naturally. His father (Robert De Niro) is an obsessive compulsive gambler who puts a lot of pressure on Pat to be his lucky charm. Pat and his father have a tenuous relationship at best. Pat continues to focus on his external appearance and physical fitness to help him overcome the disorganization of his brain. On his runs, he frequently encounters Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), widow who was recently fired for balancing her depression with sexual promiscuity. The two come to agreement; Tiffany will get letters to Pat’s wife if he will be her dance partner in an upcoming dance completion.
The script and casting are fantastic. The story moves between very touching and emotional scenes to light hearted humor and dry wit. The movie gives a very truthful look into mental illness (though not of therapists), and the audience is moved by the two character’s struggles and victories and setbacks. Viewers easily become invested in their lives.
The characters are brought to life by their actors almost magically. Cooper deserves the Oscar as he oscillates between the crazy manic side of Pat to the self-reflective and very “normal” aspects of the same character. He uses body language and voice inflection masterfully showing how much is really going on in Pat’s head. Cooper shows that he is more than just a pretty face; he has major dramatic acting chops.
Lawrence gives a great performance though not as finely tuned as Cooper’s. She embodies someone who is aware that her actions are not the best but not regretful or her journey. De Niro is perfect as the overbearing but loving father. He manages to make his characters OCD look like a disability instead of joke fodder.
There was only one moment I was truly disappointed with the movie. When Pat finally gets to interact with his wife, the movie does not elaborate on what he says to her. While this could be a method of saying that it doesn’t really matter, as a viewer I wanted Pat to recover and hear the whispered exchanged as proof.
Touching, yet funny, Silver Lings Playbook does a lot to make the public aware of what it is like to live with mental illness but entertaining at the same time. Touching performances by Cooper and De Niro bring the characters to dynamic life. Silver Linings Playbook is worth every accolade it’s received.
- In ‘Silver Linings Playbook,’ Lawrence Is Golden (npr.org)
- Silver Linings Playbook… (girlygirl.typepad.com)
- Why ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ Is The Best Movie Of The Year (thoughtcatalog.com)
- ‘Silver Linings Playbook’: At Last, Bradley Cooper (theatlanticwire.com)
- Silver Linings Playbook (mhmoviereviews.com)