John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

Silver Linings Playbook Poster

Silver Linings Playbook

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Director: David O. Russell

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jacki Weaver, Anupam Kher, Chris Tucker

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: November 16th 2012

After spending eight months in a psychiatric hospital, nurse the main character in “Silver Linings Playbook” is finally released to the care of his parents at the beginning of the film. He arrives home with the same problems that he had before along with a new motto. “You have to do everything you can and…if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining,” he says. That idea is put into good use when he meets up with a young widowed woman who has some psychological issues of her own.

Bradley Cooper stars in the new dramedy as Pat, a young man whose wife is kept a distance after she received a restraining order against him.  Returning home to his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) from the hospital, Pat naively believes that his wife will soon take him back despite his anger issues (and the fact that he seriously beat up his wife’s lover). When Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) at a dinner, he rejects the widow’s advances even after the two of them bond about over their respective medical treatments. The young Tiffany has many issues of her own and went into a deep hole when her husband passed away.

The chemistry between the two main characters is immediate. Both of them see in one another a kindred soul who has been rejected by the normalcy of life and left despairingly on the side of the road. As Tiffany says the night of their first encounter, “We’re not liars like they are,” referring to those typical people who hide all of their heartfelt emotions so meticulously.

Although Pat is hesitant to go further with Tiffany, she has other ideas. When the two see each other again jogging in a local neighborhood, Tiffany pursues Pat. After convincing him that the two should form an alliance that would benefit them both,  the duo become close and ultimately begin dancing together in preparation for a big competition.

Lawrence and Cooper are a delightful couple onscreen and give this story—which was adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick– the energy that it needs. Both characters seem to leap off the screen. Their psychological quirks are clear and defined and yet both are presented as relatable characters who are just trying to find something to hold onto in their lives.

De Niro and Weaver deserve special attention for their brilliant supporting turns. De Niro is—in a break from some of his recent lackluster roles—given a larger-than-life character whose obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles plays a major role in the latter half of the story. Weaver, on the other hand, has a quieter role as a mother who desperately wants to trust her son despite his flaws. It is—at times—heartbreaking to watch her stand idly by as her son makes several bad decisions along the way.

“silver Linings Playbook” can be viewed as a romantic comedy or a drama but neither genre seems well-suited to its unique blend of offbeat humor and heart-breaking elements.  Director and screenwriter David O. Russell brought audiences the powerful and emotional “The Fighter” in 2010. Here he delivers a worthy follow-up featuring four great performances and a story that will be hard to forget.


Review by: John Hanlon