Film Review: Silver Linings Playbook (The Weinstein Company; 2012)

BY LOUISE LONEY

Silver Linings Playbook is the latest film by director David O. Russell. Based on the novel by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook attempts to address the issue of mental health in the form of a romantic comedy.

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) has just been released from a mental institution after suffering a bipolar episode. As part of his release conditions, Pat must move back in with his parents played by Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver. The film captures Pat’s inner struggle to accept his mental illness while simultaneously trying to rebuild his life after losing his wife and teaching job. Pat forms an unlikely friendship with Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a troubled and equally eccentric young woman who is struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her husband.

The relationship between Pat and Tiffany is based on a mutual understanding of each other’s mental imbalances. After a turbulent start, Tiffany and Pat’s friendship develops as they become dance partners. Unlike most romantic comedies, the relationship between Pat and Tiffany remains one of friendship until the closing scene of the film. The erratic nature of this film definitely makes the ending slightly less predictably than most romantic comedies.

Surprisingly, the pairing of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence works incredibly well. Undoubtedly, Lawrence’s portrayal of Tiffany is the standout performance of the film. Lawrence’s ability to convey the ever-changing emotions of her character demonstrate her credentials as an actress. While supporting performances by Robert De Niro and Chris Tucker inject a healthy dose of comedy into this strange love story.

Director David O. Russell has adopted a simplistic approach for Silver Linings Playbook, think 500 Days of Summer or Juno, to convey both humour and at times heartbreak. An unusual cast combined with an unusual script has clearly paid off as the film won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival in September. Unsurprisingly, Oscar predictions are already circulating about this quirky romantic comedy.

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