Written by Yue Jie
Directed by: David O. Russell
Running time: 122 minutes
Classification: NC16 – Coarse Language & Some Nudity
Release date: 10 January 2013
“I opened up to you, and you judged me.”
Silver Linings Playbook isn’t your typical love story. It’s a romantic drama between 2 troubled characters who try to shake each other off while irresistibly and inevitably growing closer. On top of that, more characters surrounding the protagonists have problems of their own, be it mentally or psychologically. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick, David Owen Russell (The Fighter, 2010) scripts and directs an intelligently crafted and deftly handled comedy-drama that promises to keep you fully engaged throughout.
Bradley Cooper, last seen in Hit and Run (David Palmer and Dax Shepard, 2012), stars as Pat Solitano, a patient suffering from bipolar disorder recently released from treatment at a mental health facility. Chris Tucker plays Danny, a mental patient alongside Pat, stealing the show with his small scenes as he makes an appearance long after the highly popular Rush Hour (Brett Ratner, 1998) film series. Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games, 2012) plays Tiffany Maxwell, a mysterious and rather confused girl with a tragic recent incident whose ways to deal is unexpected and shocking at best.
Highly acclaimed veteran actor Robert De Niro plays Patrizio Solitano, father figure to Pat with mild obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). De Niro delivers an award-winning solid performance and excels in his role, giving all the right emotions needed at the right time and hitting all the right notes. Cooper and De Niro star together in this feature after Limitless (Neil Burger, 2011). Patrizio frequently bets on American football with regular bookmaker Randy (Paul Herman). It is Randy who is responsible for stirring the climax of the film when he bets a parlay with Patrizio on a dance competition Pat and Tiffany are involved in, on top of another football game, just to prove that he isn’t cheating Patrizio of his money.
At this point, the ending is predictable, yet viewers are pushed to keep watching and find out how the pair is eventually able to deal with their shortcomings and get together. All of these, however, come at a price for Pat, as he agrees only because he wants to get back together with his wife Nikki (Brea Bee) whom has taken a restraining order against him. A metaphor for optimism, Silver Linings Playbook indeed focuses on silver linings, as Pat does not give up on his wish to see his wife once again. Hence it is the dance competition and parlay that Pat knew would be a chance for him to catch up with the person he loved most and get his life back together.
The onscreen chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence is icy cold yet positively natural. How their characters meet is no simple coincidence and it all boils down to a satisfying final act. Despite the many characters of the ensemble cast in Silver Linings Playbook who are related to Patrick and central to the plot, Russell ensures adequate character development for everyone as much as possible. As he does this, he delivers a solid screenplay that empowers Pat and spurs him to accomplish achievements he never thought he was able to, on top of overcoming his erratic behavior. The screenplay for Tiffany’s character had Lawrence look gothic and messed up with her life, an image a far cry from her previous film appearances.
Silver Linings Playbook is an emotionally engaging drama that can be appreciated best with a mature mind, for it seeks to show the feelings felt and emotions displayed by a bipolar disorder patient. Furthermore, humour in this feature meddles with societal norms and lives of the protagonists. In addition, Russell’s penchant for small camera movements to show nuances made by Pat shows his eye for detail, as these little actions show the nervousness Pat has even when he tries to be calm.
With its fair share of intense moments and spontaneous one-liners, Silver Linings Playbook is highly deserving and worthy of the awards it bagged at the Hollywood Film Festival. With a cast of Golden Globe nominees, it wields a strong potential in the Oscar season especially for Lawrence as she stands out in her acting.
Check out the trailer below!