Movie Review: “Silver Linings Playbook”

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“Silver Linings Playbook” is an outstanding film and has earned a spot in my top five favorite movies of all time.

The actors are perfectly cast in their roles. The screenplay, adopted from the novel of the same name, is witty and entertaining, and the direction, by the boundary pushing David O. Russell, is breathless and thought-provoking.

“Silver Linings Playbook” breezes through its 122-minute run time, and when the credits rolled, I wasn’t ready for it to be over. The film had progressed and unfolded like most all movies do – the dramatic structure alive and well, but I knew I had just witnessed something truly special as I left the theater.

The plot centers on Pat, (Bradley Cooper) a former teacher dealing with bipolar disorder and some severe anger issues. When the film begins, Pat has just left a mental institution after an eight-month stay, and moves back home with his father Pat Sr. (Robert DeNiro) and his mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver).

As Pat tries to put his life back together and reconnect with his ex-wife, he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) through his married friends, Ronnie and Veronica.

Tiffany, Veronica’s mentally damaged sister whose husband has recently passed away, is dealing with her husband’s death in some unusual ways.

The interplay and verbal exchanges between Pat and Tiffany are hilariously inappropriate and heartbreakingly sad, often at the same time. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another movie walk such a fine line with its dialogue. It’s offensive, yet it’s not. It’s cheesy, yet it’s not. It’s never just a clichéd line getting sputtered off, there’s always something more happening beneath the surface.

The chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence is completely believable, and in turn, it makes the chemistry between their characters that much more potent. You can tell these two damaged human beings were meant for each other, even if their relationship gets off to a rocky start.

It’s hard for me to judge which co-lead was better:  Lawrence or Cooper. The acting all around is magnificent, with veterans DeNiro and Weaver holding their own, but this film is Lawrence and Cooper’s vehicle.

Lawrence has been widely praised for her role, receiving an Academy Award nomination for best actress and a Golden Globe win for best actress in a comedy or musical.

She immediately draws your focus in every scene, and yes, it may partly be because she is stunningly gorgeous, but her passionate energy and shockingly blunt confessions are what really seal the deal. Lawrence oozes confidence in her role, and I’m not sure I’ve seen a better performance this past year.

Add in the fact that she was only 21 when the movie was shot and this is already her second best actress nomination, she was previously nominated for the overlooked and underappreciated “Winter’s Bone,” and I think it’s safe to say Lawrence has a very bright future ahead.

With that being said, I honestly think I was slightly more impressed with Cooper, if only because he hasn’t shown the ability to take on such a challenging role in the past.

He’s proven his comedic chops in films such as “The Hangover” and “Wedding Crashers,” but his dramatic work had been sorely lacking. He wasn’t bad in the action/drama “Limitless,” but his previous film, “The Words,” was as terrible as it’s title. To go from that mess of a film to this is remarkable.

Cooper also picked up an Academy Award nomination, but he’s a lot less likely to win his best actor category because of Daniel Day-Lewis’s powerhouse performance in “Lincoln.”

With eight total Academy Award nominations, it’s obvious I’m not alone in holding this movie in such high regard. I loved “Silver Linings Playbook.” It’s an amazing achievement and a must see.

Five stars out of five.