As the Oscar-winning film Silver Linings Playbook opens, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is about to be released from a mental institution where he served a brief stint due of a life-altering violent outburst. From this point forward, Pat declares that he’s going to find the silver lining in every dark cloud that hangs above him. Based on the 2010 novel by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook has more to offer than a portrait of mental illness. The film marks a comedic return for Oscar nominated writer and director David O. Russell who manages to mix elements of a mental illness drama and a romantic comedy into a cohesive narrative.
Pat’s stay at a mental institution is part of a plea-bargaining deal after his arrest. A few months before, he arrived home to find his wife Nikki in the shower with one of her colleagues. After losing self-control, Pat nearly beats the man to death with his bare hands. His loss of control significantly altered his personal life. He lost his job as a substitute teacher, his home, and his marriage. When he’s welcomed back into his parent’s home, he is obsessively determined to rekindle his marriage. He convinces himself that he just needs to stay positive to feel better rather than take any of his medication to readjust his behavior. He feels by staying positive, reading every book on Nikki’s English class syllabus, and jogging, he’ll be able to win her back.
Pat eventually meets the promiscuous Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who has problems of her own. She’s a medicated depressive who is still suffering the loss of her husband Tommy. Ever since his death, she’s become addicted to sex and even lost her job by sleeping with everyone in the office. As Pat and Tiffany start to awkwardly connect, Tiffany decides to persuade Pat in being her dance partner for a dance competition. In exchange, Tiffany offers to help Pat get into contact with Nikki.
The most surprising aspect of the film was the performances. Usually when people think of Bradley Cooper, they refer to his work in The Hangover films. Silver Linings Playbook made Cooper an Oscar-nominated actor and deservedly so. His performance as Pat is at times humorous and at other times tragic. Whenever he was on screen, his presence commands your attention because you just don’t know what this character will do or say next.
The other stand out was Jennifer Lawrence. She gives a fantastic performance in the film as Tiffany. Lawrence certainly stands out from other actresses her age in the industry because of her willingness to take risks in her performances and the roles she takes. While watching the film, it’s as if the role was meant for someone a bit older but Lawrence brings a sense of maturity and a perfect amount of zaniness to the role. It should be noted that the chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence is fantastic. After a slew of duds in recent years, Oscar winning actor Robert De Niro gives his best performance in the last twenty years. It’s an absolute shame that he didn’t win the much-deserved Oscar. Chris Tucker (yes THE Chris Tucker from the Rush Hour and Friday films) has a small humorous role as one of Pat’s closer friends he met in the institution.
Honestly, it would’ve been incredibly easy for Silver Linings Playbook to trail off into clichéd narrative territory. While the last few minutes are arguably formulaic, most of the film manages to stay engaging due to the great performances and a solid script written by David O. Russell. While watching the film, it’s easy to get a sense of the director’s personal connection to the material. I think it’s because of this personal connection that the filmmaking is passionate and so is the storytelling. The story itself may seem ludicrous on paper but ultimately works because of Russell’s extensive ability to balance the most appropriate amount of sharp humor and emotion when it feels the most raw and genuine.
Video (1080p High-Definition): The1080p transfer is crystal clear. The fine detail is exceptionally presented in the imagery. The ambience is impressive considering a substantial amount of the interiors and exteriors were naturally lit. The colors are well balanced.
Audio (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1): For a film like this, the dialogue is the most important aspect of the audio. The good news is that the dialogue is audible and cleanly tuned. The background levels are mixed well with the dialogue and never become a distinct distraction.
The special features provided on the Blu-ray of Silver Linings Playbook are presented in high definition.
- 16 Deleted Scenes & Alternate Ending
- Silver Linings Playbook: The Movie That Became a Movement
- Q&A Highlights
- Dance Rehearsal
- Learn To Dance Like Pat and Tiffany
- Going Steadicam with Bradley Cooper
- DVD copy
- Digital copy
- Ultraviolet copy
Most of the special features that are offered on the Blu-ray are sort of pointless. The “Learn to Dance Like Pat and Tiffany” teach viewers how to dance just like Pat and Tiffany from the film. “Dance Rehearsal” is an extremely short feature offering a glimpse of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence practicing their dance routine. The “Silver Linings Playbook: The Movie That Became a Movement” feature is by far the most interesting and comprehensive feature on the disc. The feature showcases interviews with David O. Russell, cast members, and Dr. Mehmet Oz discuss the realistic portrayal of mental illness and how the film has made mental illness more accessible. The discussion then moves on from mental illness to more about the film itself. It’s an in depth feature that’s worth a watch. The deleted scenes are amusing but yet deserve their spot on the list of deleted scenes.
As mentioned previously, Silver Linings Playbook had every opportunity to turn into a mess but manages to engaging. The film has its fair share of both dark and comedic moments. It’s this balance that helps the audience to be drawn to the dysfunctional characters as they try to overcome their internal challenges. It helps to be drawn to each of the characters due to the cast bringing these characters to life. Silver Linings Playbook is certainly not a groundbreaking film by any stretch of the imagination, but it deserves attention for David O. Russell’s unique portrayal of mental illness and the outstanding performances. The vague, but honest way to summarize the film is that it’s an engaging blend of mental illness, romance, football, Stevie Wonder, and ballroom dancing.
Click here to purchase Silver Linings Playbook on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy/Ultraviolet Digital Copy
The Blu-ray was released on April 30th, 2013.