Quirky and enchanting, Silver Linings Playbook takes a stab at depicting the depth of human emotion with surprising success, procured from the substantial chemistry of stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. It’s not often that films can project a characterization of love, life, and human interaction in a pure, organic, and unfiltered light. In simply this, Silver Linings Playbook achieves a gold star for not only the successful vignette that is achieved in the telling of Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany’s (Jennifer Lawrence) stories, but in the attainment of the audience’s attention by way of absolute authenticity.
Often, overarching themes in film can be engulfed by an overgrown subplot, or perhaps by a lack of relativity. Silver Linings Playbook successfully executes the slow burn of the overarching theme of loss, and couples it with a seamless array of wit, humor and substance.
Pat Solotano’s (Cooper) loss is both emotional and tangible. He has lost his job, his house, the respect of his peers, and most important to him, the love of his life, Nikki (Brea Bee). After a court-ordered stint in a mental institution, Pat takes everything he has learned and heads back home. His parents open up their home to him, in hopes that Pat will get his life in order and get back on his feet soon. His failure to admit his mental instability (bipolar tendencies among other things) is both heart-wrenching and comical all at once. Upon meeting Tiffany (Lawrence), Pat’s world suddenly shifts, and he finds himself working toward what he thought was unattainable – a chance to contact Nikki…but at a cost.
Tiffany’s instability matches Pat’s on every level, and perhaps such is what draws them to each other. Her resolute demeanor hides a secret vibrancy, though she also emanates a slew of other complicated emotions. Channeling her emotions is a challenge, but her newfound friendship with Pat seems to tame the demons and shut out some of the hurt that has plagued her.
As I said previously, where this film marvels me is in its distinct ability to delve into a niche that often eludes the stereotypical Hollywood romantic comedies. Such requires both an evolution from the acting talent and a story that tells it like it is – the whole kit and kaboodle; the good, the bad and the ugly; everything. With the puzzle piece that is the cast, certainly half the battle has been won, as every character generated the perfect balance relative to each other.
Bradley Cooper gave one of his career best performances in this film. What greatly saddens me is his continuous acceptance of roles in crap like Hangover Part 2. Regardless, Cooper gives a wholly grounded performance, and manages to wrangle up a stunning array of emotions that give such great depth to the character of Pat.
Jennifer Lawrence proves why she will continue to land huge roles opposite big-name actors. “Why?”, you may ask? Lawrence takes a no holds barred approach to her acting. You can tell she takes pride in her craft, and rather than other actors her age, who seem to perpetuate the same character from role to role (or, like Kristen Stewart, just act like themselves…), Lawrence digs in heels first and delivers performances with sincerity and raw emotion.
The supporting cast of this movie is truly the icing on an already delicious cake. Robert De Niro shines as Pat’s father, Pat Sr., whose OCD tendencies shed light on Pat’s mental problems. His obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles adds another dimension to the story, in many strains. Though we know De Niro has acting chops, it’s nice to see him in a role that provides various facets with which he can work to deliver a stellar performance. Jacki Weaver plays Pat’s mother, Dolores, whose timid homemaker tendencies often get in the way of her true emotions. The long-awaited screen return of Chris Tucker is well received, and the comic relief provided through his character Danny offsets the often occurring tension. Other talent includes Anupam Kher, John Ortiz, Shea Whigam, and Julia Stiles.
While I would delve into the plot at length, I feel that this film relies more heavily on the revealing of certain plot points at specific moments, so I feel that what I have given here at least sets the stage for what to expect. This film doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and as I have applauded a few times, such is a rare and beautiful experience in today’s film industry.
I can nearly guarantee a Best Picture nomination for Silver Linings Playbook, and though I’m not holding my breath, I think that Bradley Cooper has a reasonable shot for a nomination. If such does not occur, it is certainly a precursor to the kind of projects we will be seeing from him in the future. As the queen of nitpicking minute details, I honestly have yet to find anything in this movie I didn’t heartily enjoy – even the ending worked for me, and usually I’m greatly disappointed with the endings in these types of films. At any rate, put this on your must watch list, especially before awards season begins – you’ll want to know what all the buzz is about.
Silver Linings Playbook – 9.5/10