Silver Linings Playbook - review

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Silver Linings Playbook

 

DIRECTOR: David O Russell

CAST: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert de Niro, Chris Tucker, Jacki Weaver, Anupam Kher

CLASSIFICATION: 13 LV

RUNNING TIME:123 minutes

 

 

From mental illness and adultery to football obsession and competitive dance, Silver Linings Playbook follows a winding path that consistently defies expectations.

David O Russell has pulled off a tricky feat here, finding just the right tone in crafting a romantic comedy whose sweethearts suffer from bipolar disorder and depression. On paper it sounds cringe-inducing. But Silver Linings Playbook isn’t mawkish, wacky nor crass. Quite the opposite.

Wearing the hats of both writer and director, Russell has developed affectionately fleshed-out characters in working-class Phila-delphia.

They feature personality quirks, but rather than seeming weird for weird’s sake, these are more complicated figures, which makes their journeys more meaningful. The film has an off-kilter optimism that’s ultimately winning.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence give inspired performances as the unlikely couple at the centre of this romance. Cooper sheds his charisma and slick good looks to star as Pat Solatano, a teacher just released from a mental institution. He suffered a break-down when he caught his wife in the shower with one of her co-workers. Now, having lost his marriage, home and career, he hopes to start over – and that starts by moving back in with his parents.

Robert De Niro does some of the best work in recent years as Pat senior, a hardcore Philadelphia Eagles fan whose game-time supers-titions have long since developed into a full-blown obsessive-compulsive disorder; the petite Jacki Weaver is lovely as Pat’s loyal, long-suffering mother. And Chris Tucker as a fellow psychiatric patient finds laughs here in a low-key way.

Pat tries to take all the right steps to further his recovery – attending daily therapy sessions with the no-nonsense Dr Patel (a very funny Anupam Kher), – but he just can’t accept that his wife wants nothing to do with him. A little thing like a restraining order doesn’t matter. He still refers to their marriage as if it still exists.

Then one night, at a dinner party thrown by old friends whose own marriage isn’t in the best shape (John Ortiz and Julia Stiles), Pat meets Tiffany (Lawrence).

Recently widowed after the death of her policeman husband and having been fired from her job, Tiffany is equally at sea. Like Pat, she has no internal censor, so this first meeting is full of quick, sharp banter and spectacularly inappropriate observations.

Silver Linings Playbook allows Lawrence to let loose while still maintaining dramatic integrity. Cooper gets a rare chance to show his dramatic side.

There’s a mania to his performance as his character strives to convince himself of his capacity for happiness.

Yes, Silver Linings Playbook wraps up on stage in front of a crowd of strangers who witness Pat and Tiffany’s love blossom for the first time.

But the route to get there is so inspired, you won’t mind – and you’ll find yourself charmed. - Sapa-AP

 

* If you liked… Midnight in Paris, Ruby Sparks or The Five-Year Engagement… you will like this. - Tonight


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