Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Rated – R
Directed by David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Jacki Weaver.
One of my favorite drama-comedies in recent memory was Little Miss Sunshine in 2006. This year, the Hoovers have competition from the Solitanos as the most dysfunctional, yet hilarious, family on the silver screen. Set in Philadelphia, the film begins when Pat Solitano (Cooper) is released from a mental hospital after a domestic incident involving his wife, who now has a restraining order against him. Pat’s mother (Weaver) is a caring woman who is sometimes naive when dealing with Pat’s inability to cooperate. Meanwhile, Pat’s father (DeNiro) seems to care about two things: his family and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Pat is very eager to return to his old life, making amends with his wife, Nikki, and is willing to do anything in his power to make that happen. Whether that involves reading books that Nikki teaches in high school or by getting into better shape by jogging daily, Pat is committed to the task. But there are clearly things still wrong with Pat’s head and he’s vulnerable to certain things that remind him of the past he wishes he could forget. His main problem is getting in contact with Nikki, but he eventually finds a way.
The way comes in the form of an attractive young woman, Tiffany (Lawrence), who is just as troubled as Pat is. Her policeman husband has recently passed away and Tiffany has been dealing with the anguish by sleeping around, giving her a bad reputation she’s trying to fix. But all that matters to Pat is that she occasionally sees Nikki and says she could pass along a letter to her for Pat. His eyes glow wide like a child being told he’s going to Disney World, but Tiffany reminds him that she wants something in return, which happens to be a dancing partner at an upcoming competition.
The film is adapted from the Matthew Quick novel of the same name by David O. Russell, whose last film (The Fighter) was met with great success. Silver Linings Playbook is a lot lighter than The Fighter, but they both contain the struggle inside of a family and how they attempt to deal with it. At the center of Silver Linings Playbook is Bradley Cooper, who hasn’t had a very impressive career thus far but does a nice job here portraying the internally problematic Pat Solitano. His co-star, Jennifer Lawrence, steals the movie whenever she’s in a scene with her short-tempered, blunt attitude.
Jennifer Lawrence continues to delight since taking the scene by storm with her Oscar-nominated performance in Winter’s Bone. With her face on the incredibly successful The Hunger Games franchise, there is no stopping her success. Oh yeah, that’s going to include another Oscar nomination for Silver Linings Playbook. She is, without a doubt, the number one actress in the world, and she’s only 22 years old.
While the film doesn’t really take many risks, the characters and their interactions are fresh and intelligent enough to easily separate it from your ordinary romantic comedies. There is a rough feel and tense tone throughout and when the two leads are characters that can snap at any moment, it keeps you guessing what will happen next. Credit everyone involved in the making of this film, from the director to the casting because everything is executed to near-perfection. And even though at the end, Silver Linings Playbook will be remembered as a crowd-pleaser, there were plenty of emotional scenes that will keep it memorable for years to come.