Silver Linings Playbook (2012): Almost Old Fashioned Fun

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I still remember the moment I saw the trailer for this film. Bradley Cooper is “speed” reading a book; he finishes, slams the book shut; looks at the book, looks up and says, “What…the…f***!” The next shot is the book flying through a closed window. If I remember correctly I spat out a mouthful of coffee and had a combined choking/laughing fit.

“This,” I said, “I’ve got to see.”

I then forgot all about it.

Then, I decided I didn’t want to see it.

Why? Because Jennifer Lawrence was in it.

Now hold on! Not because I don’t like this amazing young actress, but at that point she seemed to be in everything. The law of averages dictate that when you’re in that much stuff you are going to ‘suck big time’ in at least one role. It’s the law of averages, baby; it happens to them all.

Then on a whim, I watched the film.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence: Pat and Tiffany trying to bond.
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence: Pat and Tiffany trying to bond.

What can I say, I was wrong.

Directed and adapted by David O Russell from Matthew Quick‘s novel of the same name, Silver Linings Playbook is principally about Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and Pat’s family Pat Sr (Robert De Niro) and mom Dolores (Jacki Weaver).

Film score by Danny Elfman.

The film is also about family, coping, living, adapting, and trying. It is also about realisation and taking chances.

Pat is in a bad place in his life at the start of the film. He has been institutionalised and put on medication after he comes home and finds wife Nikki in the shower with a teacher colleague. He, quite understandably to my mind, freaks out and beats the shit out of the guy. While all this is going on, the music that played from his and Nikki’s wedding reception.

This music is a “trigger” for Pat and when he is upset or just hears the song, he gets very stressed and violent. The episode with Nikki culminates not only in his incarceration, but a diagnosis of Bi-Polar Disorder (what used to be termed Manic Depressive) and put on medication.

Pat gets released from the institute and his mom collects him. Pat is invited to an old friends house for dinner where he meets Tiffany, a young widow and the sister of his friend’s wife. She suffers from a mental disorder as well after she went “off the deep end” when her policeman husband was killed on duty.

Chris Tucker rocking it as Danny. Great Cameo, we missed you Chris.
Chris Tucker rocking it as Danny. Great cameo, we missed you Chris.

The rest of the film deals with Pat’s obsession with Nikki and his (almost) undying belief that they will get back together. Along the way, he is trying to reconcile with his parents, especially his OCD dad, and attempting to understand Tiffany. Meanwhile, he’s learning a dance routine with Tiffany for a contest.

This could have been a giant leap backwards in terms of film, it almost felt like the old romantic comedies of yesteryear. The only “new” element of this “RomCom” was the device of mental disorder affecting three of the main characters. I fell in love with all the characters, especially Pat and his family and Tiffany. All the actors really sold their roles and Chris Tucker in his cameo role as Danny rocked it.

Just a quick word about De Niro; he really did well as the OCD addicted gambler dad. He’s been “sleepwalking” a lot of his roles lately. It’s nice to see you wake up Robert; welcome back.

And another quick word about Jennifer Lawrence, she made me think of a young Angie Dickenson. If the powers that be ever decide to remake Rio Bravo, she could and should play Feathers.

This movie made me laugh, cringe, think and cry. It is no wonder that Lawrence won an Oscar for her performance and that this film got so many nominations (and a BAFTA). It is that good.

An easy 5 out of 5 stars for a film that delivers it all. A word of advice have tissues handy you’ll need them, I did.

Lawrence getting that well deserved Oscar.
Lawrence getting that well deserved Oscar.