First of all, what is up with the title of this film? I think it’s a perfectly fine title, works with the themes of the film (personal happiness/sport) and it sounds fairly nice to me. But for some reason the marketeers have decided that it should have just been Silver Linings. Seriously, the posters, the voiceovers, the bus ads, it’s all SILVER LININGS * playbook*. Anyway, on with the review…
Pat (Bradley Cooper) is a man who has lost everything. A former teacher, he was living with undiagnosed bipolar disorder, undiagnosed until he found his wife enjoying a particularly steamy shower with a colleague, nearly beat him to death and found himself in a psychiatric hospital following a plea bargain. After serving his eight month sentence we meet him as he moves back into his parents house with a new outlook on life, a determination to find his silver lining, and most importantly, to win his wife back. Jennifer Lawrence plays Tiffany, the proverbial spanner in the works. Tiffany is a young widow who has her share of problems and her and Pat have an instant affinity. She agrees to act as a go-between for Pat to get a letter to his wife, in exchange for Pat becoming her dance partner.
Pat is pulled in multiple directions as he struggles to keep up his commitments to Tiffany as well as trying to focus on proving himself to his wife, and please his family. His father, Pat Senior (Robert De Niro) is an OCD gambling addict who sees Pat as his lucky charm and key to helping his beloved Philadelphia Eagles football team win their games and in turn, win him enough money to open his dream restaurant. Pat Sr.’s own violent temper is refered to and it is the interactions between him and his son that show us how Pat’s bipolar disorder lay undiagnosed for so long. Although the relationship between Pat and Tiffany is the central focus, the equally tempestuous relationship between Pat and his father is as interesting, as important and as well-developed.
Directed by David O’Russell (director of the amazing I Heart Huckabees), Silver Linings Playbook delivers a perfectly pitched blend of rom-com, family drama and sports. True, there are no surprises in this film. There’s nothing terribly original or ‘out the box’ and you know the ending as soon as you sit down, but really, what’s wrong with that? The film is well paced, engaging and (dare I say it) heartwarming.
There’s been some premature Oscar buzz about this one. While this is a really enjoyable film with some great performances I can’t help but think that we might be in for a weak couple of months if that is true. A bit mean perhaps because I do highly recommend this film.