Silver Linings Playbook is the perfect movie for fans of the indie-dramedy category, comparable to such recent films as Up in the Air, The Descendants, Little Miss Sunshine, and Win Win. Bradley Cooper, of every frat boy’s favorite flick The Hangover, stars. He gives a career- defining performance as Pat, a severely bi-polar man given to mood swings and recently released from an 8-month stretch in a mental clinic into the custody of his parents. All the while, he contemplates how he can win back his wife Nikki, who issued a restraining order following his violent outburst when he saw her with another man.
Opposite Cooper is one of my favorite actresses, Jennifer Lawrence, star of the recent box-office sensation The Hunger Games. She plays Tiffany, a young widow who tries to help Pat into a better mental state, while simultaneously harboring her own inner mental disorders. Throughout the movie, Pat tries to discover the “silver lining” in his life, so he can improve and hopefully perfect his mental state. Tiffany convinces Pat that the best way to show Nikki he has improved his mentality is to dance with her in a competition – showing dedication, confidence, romantic elegance, etc.
What makes this movie work? Quite clearly the two leads. The timing and chemistry they bring to the screen is incomparable to any other film I’ve seen. Cooper portrays a more subtle character, whose fits of rage come sporadically and unexpectedly. Lawrence, on the other hand, maintains a cool and snarky-yet-lovable persona, which more than once escalates into a violent lash out against Pat. The way these two young stars bring writer-director David O. Russell’s screenplay to life is executed flawlessly. Each remark is said right when it should be, each word is accentuated and inflected just as much as it should.
I have no doubt in my mind Cooper will be receiving his first Oscar nomination for this role. Lawrence is also expected to be nominated for her performance, though if you ask me, I’d much rather see her be nominated for The Hunger Games, which demanded much more from the 22-year-old actress both physically and emotionally, as she had to carry the whole film by herself. That being said, as long as Jennifer Lawrence gets her first well-deserved Oscar this year, you won’t be hearing any complaints from me.
But back to this movie. Because it falls into the category of indie-dramedy, it definitely requires the patience of the viewers. Those who have seen some of the movies I referenced in the first paragraph know exactly what I’m talking about. However, upon leaving the theater, I was satisfied. The laughs weren’t all that frequent, but they came. Russell sacrificed quantity for quality in the laugh department, but the effect was virtually the same. The writing is intelligent, yet at times predictable. It makes up for its occasional predictability with the overall originality, and once again, great acting.
Assisted by the presence of screen-legend Robert De Niro and funny man Chris Tucker of Rush Hour (who also arguably gives a career- best, despite minimal screen-time), Silver Linings Playbook reminds audiences that movies can still deliver the laughs while maintaining the heart. If you can be patient enough through the periods of exposition, you too should walk out of the theater satisfied.