Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
“This is what I believe to be true: You have to do everything you can and if you stay positive you have a shot at a silver lining,” says Pat (Bradley Cooper) to his therapist in one of his many sessions since being released from the mental hospital in the drama/comedy film Silver Linings Playbook.
Pat’s life has not gone as he hoped or planned. After losing everything in his life – his job, his house and his wife by catching her in the shower with one of his co-workers and beating him within an inch of his life – Pat took a plea bargain and has spent the last eight months in a mental hospital for his anger and mood swings. Now Pat is out, living with his parents and trying to rebuild his life with a positive attitude. And, most importantly, he’s trying to reconnect with his wife in spite of the restraining order she has in place against him.
Pat’s parents just want him to get back on his feet, and his dad (Robert De Niro) desperately wants him to watch the Philadelphia Eagles football games with him and bring the team good mojo.
Things begin to get complicated and interesting for Pat when he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a sister-in-law to Pat’s best friend. She’s a strange, mysterious and sexy young woman who’s battling her own demons and finds Pat’s recent past with mental illness intriguing. Desperate for a friend and feeling an almost instant connection with Pat, Tiffany offers to help him try to reconnect with his wife but only if he becomes her dance partner so they can enter in a dance competition she’s always wanted to perform in. Quirky, funny and sweet, Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic comedy/drama that gives Bradley Cooper the best role of his career so far. Cooper delivers a strong performance as Pat, a troubled, angry young man who is truly doing his very best to try to get a new life started for himself. The therapy scenes in the film are both humorous and real. When Pat reveals to the doctor that he has most likely had a problem with anger all his life and how he hates his illness but wants to learn how to control it, it’s impossible not to root for him in his struggle.
Jennifer Lawrence is wonderful as Tiffany, the troubled and sexy young lady who seems to set her sights on Pat for all the wrong reasons – but just might be exactly what he needs. The chemistry between Lawrence and Cooper is dynamic and raises the film to a higher level.
Robert De Niro gives a funny and solid performance as Pat’s dad who carries the weight of feeling somehow he let his son down while raising him, blaming himself partly for Pat’s troubles. The scene where he tries to confess his feelings and hopes to Pat is both tender and touching.
The big problem with Silver Linings Playbook is in the first 25 minutes of the film. It’s extremely loud, chaotic and has awkward pacing. However, if the moviegoing audience can just get past this part of the film and make it to the dinner party scene, they’ll end up watching and being treated to one of the best romantic comedies this year.
Silver Linings Playbook is rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity.