A review courtesy of Courtney Small from Big Thoughts from a Small Mind
Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful welcome home of sorts for David O. Russell. After tackling gritty drama in his Academy Award nominated film The Fighter, Russell returns to quirky family comedy in the same vein as his 1996 film Flirting with Disaster. Adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick, the film is a smart romantic comedy that reaffirms the importance of looking on the brighter side of life.
After spending eight months in a psychiatric institution, Pat Solanto (Bradley Cooper) is finally being released into the custody of his parents, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and Dolores (Jacki Weaver). A former teacher who suffers from bipolar disorder, Pat found himself in the facility after brutally beating a co-worker who was having an affair with his wife Nikki (Brea Bee). With a new outlook to find the silver lining in every aspect of life, Pat is determined to get his life back on track. This includes winning back Nikki, who currently has a restraining order against him.
In order to facilitate communication with Nikki, Pat enlists the help of the equally unstable Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Blunt and equally short tempered, Tiffany has been suffering from depression ever since the death of her young husband. Tiffany agrees to assist Pat only if she gets something in return, Pat must be her partner for a dance competition. Despite Pat’s quest to look on the brighter side, he is seemingly blind to the silver lining that Tiffany provides.
Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic comedy that works far better than its premise initially leads you to believe. Russell’s script feels invigorated with its often fast-paced and blunt dialogue. Some of the best comedic moments arrive when Pat, who has no filter between his brain and his mouth, frequently reminds Tiffany that her husband is deceased at the most inopportune times. Although conventional in its structure, this film never feels like your standard romantic comedy.
The cast is stellar all the way with Russell getting great performances from the most unlikely sources. Cooper and Lawrence have wonderful chemistry. At first they seem like an odd pairing given their age difference but by the time the movie is over, you completely buy into their romance. The supporting cast is also terrific with Robert De Niro– who has not looked this alive in quite a while — hitting all the right comedic notes as Pat’s Philadelphia Eagles loving father who has a severe case of OCD. The most surprising cast member though is Chris Tucker, who steals a few brief scenes as a fellow patient of the psychiatric institution.
The Silver Linings Playbook is a film that may appear generic upon first glance, but it is far more engaging than you could ever anticipate. The film crackles with wit and strong performances from the entire cast. It’s a quirky romantic comedy that will make you see the silver lining in both family and love.