Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Directed by: David O. Russell
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro
Silver Linings Playbook was a film I only wanted to see because of the cast and the fact that it was directed by David O. Russell, who directed The Fighter. The story didn’t seem entirely interesting to me, but I was more than happy to give it a watch in order to see how some top actors could portray people with serious issues, especially Chris Tucker who’s back on the big screen in a film that doesn’t involve the words Rush Hour. By the end of the film I was gripped into the relationships, the illnesses, the conflicts, the disillusions, the performances, and most of all the story that left me leaving the cinema with a big smile on my face.
The plot centres on Pat, a former school teacher who was placed into a mental institute after beating his wife’s lover to a pulp. 8 months later and the doctors are happy he can try life on the outside again and off he goes with his Mother to move back home. Pat unveils to his family his plan of action to help beat his illness. First off is to drop all medication, second is to get fit and third is to prove to his wife that he’s better and is willing to take her back. The problem though is that his wife has moved on, she’s frightened of him and his unpredictability. Restraining orders are set out against him meaning he can’t go near any of the people he may have offended, and that is a lot. During his rehabilitation he goes for dinner with one of his mates, because he sometimes sees Pat’s wife and he wants to get a message across. Whilst at dinner he meets his friend’s sister-in-law, Tiffany, who has got an equal amount of problems. Her husband was killed and ever since she has resorted to sleeping with many different men so she doesn’t feel lonely. Tiffany sees something she likes in Pat and wants to become his friend, but she can only persuade Pat when she tells him she can get a note to his wife. There’s a catch to this friendship though, Pat has to be Tiffany’s dance partner at a competition coming up. Accepting it in order to get what he wants, Pat learns to become closer to his new friend and find new ways to control his temper, ways his family, friends, and doctors don’t agree with.
The story is very dry and very simple. It isn’t one that’s going to bend your mind in many different directions. It’s more of a character study into two very different characters with the same emotional problems. The performances in the film really add to the relationships that drive this story. Bradley Cooper is brilliant as Pat, performing in a very different way to which we are used to seeing him. Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic as Tiffany who in facial expressions, delivery of dialogue and dress sense really highlights a troubled mind. Robert De Niro is also on good form as Pat Senior, a man so obsessed with his local football team that his superstitions are getting out of hand. And finally, something I never thought I’d say, even Chris Tucker is pretty good in his performance as Pat’s mate who continually manages to con his way out of the mental home. The performances really are ace, but the direction and writing by David O.Russell are also spot on. The story is predictable but the dialogue and plot threads are so well done that you’re too invested to care.
The film builds to an emotionally pleasing climax. The B story, with Pat Snr’s OCD and gambling problems, drive us to this end. His addiction leads him to gamble on his son at this competition, even though he disagrees with his reasons for doing it. Pat Snr shows as many mental illness elements as his son does, but is never judged like his son. Pat calls this in an opening exchange with his doctor where he states, ‘my Father beats up many at a football game and is banned for life, I beat a guy who I catch sleeping with my wife and I’m labelled insane‘. I thought this line was brilliant as it really highlights his frustrations. This all builds in the second half and once it does you breeze through to the end as it captivates you.
This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. It explores themes that aren’t always portrayed in these types of films and it does so in a slightly comedic way. I’ve seen it billed by some people as a romantic comedy though I can assure you now it’s not. It’s a drama with some black comedy involved. If anything the comedy mainly comes from the bluntness of the two lead characters as they both struggle to cope in social situations. It isn’t supposed to be a comedy; it’s more a light-hearted take on a rather serious matter.
Silver Linings Playbook is so different to the other films released this year. I would highly recommend it and ask you to go in with no judgement. You will be guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face as it shows you no matter what your troubles are there’s always a silver lining.