As soon as I saw the trailer for Silver Linings Playbook, I knew it was my kind of film. Although it didn’t give much away, the amazing cast – including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro – sold it to me right away. So much so, that I went against my rule of always trying to read novels before watching their film adaptations.
Silver Linings Playbook follows Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) as he is released from a mental health facility into his parent’s (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) care. Pat suffers from bipolar disorder and was hospitalised after finding out his wife, Nikki, was having an affair with a colleague, whom he proceeded to nearly beat to death. He believes that if he finds enough silver linings in his life he will win Nikki back.
At a dinner, he meets his friend Ronnie’s sister-in-law, Tiffany, a young widow, (Jennifer Lawrence) for the first time. The two soon develop a friendship, with Tiffany offering to give Nikki a letter from Pat if he will be her dance partner in an upcoming competition that her husband never wanted to go to.
As Pat and Tiffany bond on-screen, Cooper and Lawrence’s chemistry is undeniable. However, the film is by no means the typical romantic-comedy you might expect. It is more of a romantic-drama with a few comedic moments. It is clear that David O. Russell, the director and writer of the screenplay, had a distinct vision with the film.
O. Russell has stated that he was so heavily invested in the screenplay because his 18-year-old son Matthew has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As I watched Silver Linings Playbook, it struck me how well those with mental illnesses are represented and I think it’s a testament to the outstanding script so clearly based on personal experiences of the issues portrayed on-screen.
As I’ve already mentioned, the cast of the film is absolutely outstanding, but none shine quite like Bradley Cooper. I wasn’t expecting much from Cooper, as I hadn’t seen him in such a dramatic role before, but in his performance as Pat he shows the perfect combination of vulnerability, emotion and humour. I think Jennifer Lawrence’s statement that his performance ‘broke her heart then put it back together again‘ is spot on and, in my opinion, Cooper deserves all the awards he is nominated for in this role.
A stand-out scene for me is the first meeting of Pat and Tiffany (much of which is seen in the trailer at the end of this review). Both Cooper and Lawrence display such quick wit in the scene and it flows so naturally. Both of their characters social struggles are obvious and they aren’t immediately comfortable in each others company as is so often the case, to the audience their meeting is plausible as being the first. The film is written so perfectly that the gradual development of their friendship is believable and so endearing to watch as a viewer.
The supporting cast are also great, with there being no weak links. Chris Tucker plays Danny, a friend of Pat’s from the psychiatric unit, who is obsessed with his hair and looking for any legal loopholes that will get him out of the facility. Jacki Weaver plays Pat’s mother, Dolores, with such raw emotion and compassion and Robert De Niro is amazing as Pat’s father, who resorts to bookmaking to earn money and suffers from OCD tenancies.
I think one of the funniest scenes, and the one that makes me believe we will be seeing Jennifer Lawrence on-screen for years to come, is when Tiffany argues with Pat Snr. in the middle of a gathering, dismissing his OCD beliefs that Pat needs to be at home when American Football is on in order for his team to win. There’s something about seeing a 22 year-old Lawrence talking down Robert De Niro which is hilarious and it’s a beautifully portrayed moment when Pat Snr. begins to acknowledge that Tiffany shouldn’t be judged because of her issues and where he finally believes in his son.
Whilst the plot is predictable, the incredible performances by the cast are reason alone to see this film. The character relationships are intriguing to watch and you genuinely root for Pat and Tiffany, not just to have a relationship but to be content as individuals and find the silver linings they both deserve.