Written and Directed by David O. Russell. Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker and Julia Stiles.
David O. Russell follows up The Fighter with this dramatic rom-com. Bradley Cooper stars as bipolar Pat who sparks up an unusual relationship with widower Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence).
David O. Russell has had a sporadic career and Silver Linings Playbook proves that he is definitely back on track. This delightful drama is the perfect blend of comedy and romance whilst also delving into the touchy subject of mental illness.
Silver Linings’ success lies with the chemistry between Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Their scenes are heartfelt, humorous and a joy to watch. What is perceived as cliché in some films, clicks within the context of this bizarre story. Although it doesn’t deliver anything new in the sense of its standard romantic drama, both lead performances are engaging and intense to watch. Cooper has come into his own in recent years, having taken the lead in Limitless, The Words and so on. Silver Linings feels like his most accomplished work. He delicately probes his characters mental illness and doesn’t play up to any clichés. Some could argue that his choice not to delve too far into the darker side of his character makes the film unrealistic, but within the context of Silver Linings it makes sense. The expert comic timing we saw in The Hangover is ever present and he manages to make what would have been a terrifying and difficult character likeable.
Lawrence is the star of Silver Linings and she lights up the screen every chance she gets. The complexities of her character Tiffany are explored subtly and she shows how comfortable she is with comedy. A slew of actresses were considered for Tiffany but I find it hard to imagine anyone other than Lawrence in the role. Proving that Winter’s Bone wasn’t a fluke, she delivers a solid performance that packs an emotional punch, whilst still making you laugh.
The supporting cast are engaging and well used throughout the film. Chris Tucker makes his first film appearance since 2007 and he enriches every scene he’s in. Although there’s a hint of Rush Hour’s Carter there, he has fun playing the role of Danny – Pat’s friend from the mental hospital. Although his back story is never explained, he is the slapstick element that Silver Linings needs. Robert De Niro is on hand as Pat’s uncomfortable OCD Father. Although there are some moments where his character is electrifying to watch – a physical fight with his son is horrifying yet funny at the same time – his OCD does start to grate slightly. The constant reminder of his OCD feels unnecessary and at times slows the pace of the film. Julia Stiles, John Ortiz, and Anupam Kher only appear briefly, which is a shame, but their characters are intriguing to watch.
Although Silver Linings never delves too deeply into Pat’s mental illness, this works to its advantage. By finding the humour in Pat’s situation, audiences are treated to a romantic drama that doesn’t deliver anything new in the grand scheme of film, but it is enjoyable to watch from beginning to end. The subtle touch of using a song as a trigger demonstrates the seriousness of Pat’s illness is refreshing as it is uncomfortable to watch, yet at the same time it’s engaging and makes you like him even more.
Silver Linings is essentially a love story and you know how it will end before it starts. It is the likeability of the characters and the chemistry of the actors that makes it a delight to watch. Although there has been Oscar buzz surrounding the film, I don’t predict it will win. Cooper and Lawrence are fantastic, but they don’t’ deliver anything different which is what the Academy loves. Silver Linings Playbook is humorous, dramatic, romantic and a great film to watch.