David O. Russell directs a film with unconventional characters to create something funny, heartfelt, and at times, emotionally powerful.
Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) went a little crazy one day after coming home from work to find his wife Nikki in the shower with another teacher. This causes Pat to lose all control and let’s just say things get a little ugly. After this stint, Pat is sentenced to 8 months in a mental institution which is where the film opens. As Pat leaves the institution, he attempts to physically and mentally get his act together so he can win back Nikki. During his recovery, Pat meets and becomes close friends with Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the sister to his best friend’s wife who is dealing with several struggles of their own. The two work together with the same goal in mind to find their “silver lining.”
Silver Linings Playbook is a big film for those who are from the Philadelphia area because the entire film was shot in or around Philadelphia. I am a Jersey boy, but currently reside right outside Philly so it’s pretty unique to see a film that features several of the landmarks that I drive past each and every day including Eagles Stadium, the Llanerch Diner, and the middle school that is right next to the high school in Upper Darby, which my girlfriend works. With that being said, Silver Linings Playbook captures Philly and does it perfectly from the crazy sport fanatics to the families that live in or around the city.
This film is a movie that I think has something for everyone. It has a heartfelt and feel-good story, great acting, non-traditional characters, a sport element, romance, solid direction, and even some realism. After seeing this film twice now, there is no shock to me at all why everyone has been raving about it. Silver Linings Playbook deals with serious issues such as cheating spouses, depression, OCD, family struggles, and heartbreak but oddly enough never gets to the point where it turns completely into a drama or a comedy. It’s actually the perfect mix of the two genres making it one of the best dramedies that I have seen in recent years.
David O. Russell uses these issues to craft a story that almost everyone can relate to at some point within the film. Sure the characters are not your typical everyday people that films usually showcase, however, these characters do exist in this world and the struggles that they are facing are real. Bradley Cooper gives the best performance of his career in this film and that says a lot for an actor who has become big from playing silly characters like Phil from The Hangover. There is a lot to his character in terms of depth and story and I feel that Cooper captures this world of Pat perfectly. When Pat begins to struggle with controlling his anger, it not only is powerful, but also presenting in a realistic way in which a person struggling with bi-polar would react.
Alongside Cooper, you have some top notch supporting performances including Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Chris Tucker, and Jacki Weaver. While all these performances are superb, I have to really recognize Jennifer Lawrence in this film. Almost everyone is talking about Cooper getting an Oscar Nomination for his role as Pat, however, I feel that if anyone in this film deserves an award it’s Jennifer Lawrence. From the moment, Lawrence comes on screen she steals the show. Her character Tiffany feels 100% authentic and real. It feel as if I have met Tiffany before and as the film progresses and you learn more about her story, I feel its Lawrence’s performance that really makes the film as good as it is. She is just magnificent in this film and honestly delivers her lines and emotions so perfectly. It will be a shame if she does not get some kind of recognition for her performance here which is even better than her role as Ree in Winter’s Bone.
Now with all the good that is in Silver Linings Playbook, I do have one complaint and that is the way the film comes together in the end. For a film that seemed to pride itself on taking chances with the non-traditional characters and story, the movie ends way too much like a typical Hollywood film. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want it to end on a low note, but the way it ended just felt “too perfect” and it took away from the story. It was so predictable and yes, I wanted to cheer for the characters, but the way everything fell into place just made me shake my head because it was so clichéd.
In conclusion, Silver Linings Playbook is a feel good film and definitely is one of the year’s best. The performances are great, along with solid direction and a pretty stellar story. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper deliver the best performances of their career and this movie is unique in the sense that it tells a story of non-traditional characters. It’s one of those films that I feel is a real crowd pleaser and will be loved by almost everyone that sees it. Bravo to David O. Russell once again for creating yet another film that delivers the goods.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Silver Linings Playbook is a solid 8 out of 10.