Silver Linings Playbook (2012 The Weinstein Company)
After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
Directed by David O. Russell | Produced by Bruce Cohen, Donna Gigliotti, Jonathan Gordon, George Parra | Screenplay by David O. Russell | Story by Matthew Quick (novel)
Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jackie Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher
“Pat, you have to have a strategy.” That’s the not-so-veiled subtext for Pat Solitano, discharged from a mental institution eight months after catching his wife, Nicki, cheating on him, triggering a violent, psychotic break. He returns to his boyhood home to begin piecing together his life. Of course, nothing in life fits so easily together in good times. Now imagine what it’s like for Pat. And his parents. And everyone he knows.
Bradley Cooper as Pat comes off as a narcissistic, abrasive jerk to everyone around him. It isn’t until Pat meets Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who, like him, is broken in so many ways and doesn’t walk on eggshells around Pat. Somewhere within their broken lives, Pat and Tiffany find a line of communication to each other—and to each other’s pain—that ultimately helps them rebuild themselves…if only they can get out of their own pattern of self destruction first. They crash and collide into one another like cars and trains in bad weather.
Robert De Niro as Pat’s father is both sweet and maddening all at once. He wants to be supportive of Pat, but is struggling with his own destructive behavior. Jackie Weaver, as Pat’s mother, is conflicted by her own frustrations with his illness while struggling to be supportive. Chris Tucker is funny and believable without being Chris Tucker as a fellow patient at the mental hospital. Anupam Kher’s portrayal of Pat’s therapist is sincere, empathetic and, at times, just plain funny.
One character that I, personally, loved is the set. Taking place in middle class Philadelphia suburbs, Judy Becker (production design), Jesse Rosenthal (art direction) and Heather Loeffler (set decoration) constructed authentic and familiar homes and locations just felt like your grandma’s house.
Silver Linings Playbook is a well crafted, well written, brilliantly acted and perfectly constructed film. Director David O. Russell tells an emotional story without succumbing to sappiness and clichés. Pat’s mental disorder is displayed with restraint and sympathy, rather than over-the-top, Robin Williams-esque mania. Russell also makes perfect use of score and popular music throughout Silver Linings Playbook to establish tone, mood and emotion.
Through it all Silver Linings Playbook makes a couple points: 1) everyone’s crazy to some degree; 2) nobody’s life is perfect. That bit about the strategy is not just for Pat. Life is messy. Life isn’t always easy. But at the end of the day, you have to keep searching for your silver lining and moving forward. Because obsessing over the wreckage of the past only means more wreckage in the future.
RATING: ***1/2 (ouf of 5)