After almost beating his wife’s lover to death, Pat (Bradley Cooper) is diagnosed as bipolar. After serving eight months in a state mental facility, Pat is sent home to live with his parents, where he quickly focuses on reconciling with his wife and taking control of his disease. Unfortunately, his refusal to take medication, his reluctance to continue therapy and his constant preoccupation with making contact with his wife hamper his recovery. Enter Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), the sister-in-law of Pat’s best friend. Tiffany too is going through some hard times after the death of her husband, seven months earlier. Thanks to Tiffany’s persistence, she and Pat become friends, with Pat even agreeing to participate in a dance contest with his new friend in exchange for her passing a letter on to his now estranged wife.
Director David O. Russell has a knack for bringing light and humour to the absurd as we’ve seen in the past with ‘Three Kings’ and ‘I heart Huckabees’. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is no exception with bipolar disorder, OCD and grief the order of the day. As a rom-com the likes of which you’ve never seen before, Russell manages to execute a gritty and real story while also catering to the emotional heartstrings of both men and women, resulting in a film with a little something for everybody.
Unfortunately, as a rom-com, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ falls victim to the common trappings of the genre about halfway through the second act eventuating in a generic, forced and ordinary conclusion unworthy of the extraordinary characters and lives we’ve just been witnessed to.
One thing’s for sure - Russell produces exceptional performance out of his cast, with everything left on the screen and nothing held back.
One thing’s for sure - Russell produces exceptional performance out of his cast, with everything left on the screen and nothing held back. Jennifer Lawrence is magnetic as the manipulative, whip-smart yet lost widow finding comfort in all the wrong places. Cooper is bold and witty is his portrayal, slowly yet surely allowing the audience into the life of a troubled man as he accepts the power of a friendship when it wasn’t necessarily wanted but most definitely needed.
While eventually losing its way and concluding a little flat, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is still a great peek into the lives of characters of quiet desperation - and some ballroom dancing mixed in as well.