Silver Linings Playbook: There’s a silver lining here somewhere….

2012| 122 minutes | David O. Russell | The Weinstein Co.

Silver Linings Playbook is Awards Season 2012’s token adult comedy .  Writer- director David O. Russell caught the critical eye with unconventional films like 2004’s I Heart Huckabees and 2010’s The Fighter (not to be confused with 2008’s The Wrestler).  This time he’s running the Oscar race with Best Picture and Best Director, plus acting nominations for his two leads.  Does Silver Linings live up to the hype?  I guess that depends on how much you heart crazy people.

Silver Linings Playbook is anchored by kindhearted and loveable Pat, played by Bradley Cooper.  Cooper is the silver lining in Silver Linings Playbook.  Pat can’t help but look on the bright side of life, and Cooper is truly an inspiration to watch.

 “You have to do everything you can. You have to work your hardest and if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.”

Pat suffers from bipolar disorder.  Recently discharged from the hospital, Pat returns home to reclaim his ex- wife and ex- life.  Said ex wife filed a restraining order against Pat after an incident involving a shower, a hideous history teacher and Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amore”.  Pat allegedly beat the history teacher within an inch of his life and was subsequently sent to the loony bin.  Eight months later, Pat has turned over a new leaf.  We are supposed to believe that Bradley Cooper was actually fat at one point, but now he’s lost weight and takes care of his body.  He’s reading every book on his wife’s English syllabus and constantly reminds himself and others to “look for the silver lining” in every dark situation.  Pat sees himself as an eternal optimist and seems genuinely committed to getting better.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Tiffany, the raven- haired bad girl down the block.  Her presence is like a little black cloud pissing all over the suburbs of Philadelphia.  I won’t reveal her secret here, but she struggles with sexuality and has her own whacked- out philosophies on life.  Her only redeeming qualities are her rock- hard ass and amazing boobs.  Okay, and she’s mysteriously good at dealing with other people’s crises.  She likes to rub her crazy in everyone’s face, whereas Pat likes to push “I’m getting better” in everyone’s face.  She wears black, lace, and yoga pants almost exclusively.

Were you under the impression that this movie only had two crazy people?  Well you’re wrong!  Pat’s dad, played by Robert De Niro, has obsessive- compulsive disorder. In fact, pretty much everyone in the movie has mental problems.  That’s the point:  everyone’s a little bit nuts.

The film’s exposition drags on, telling the audience more about the characters than we care to know.  About 45 minutes before the film ends, a plot emerges.  Tiffany proposes a bet to end all bets between Pat’s dad, an ardent Eagles fan, and his nitwit buddy (John Ortiz).  The Eagles must beat the Cowboys and Pat and Tiffany must score at least a 5 in their dance competition.

Already, we can smell a climax brewing.

The contest is the high point of the movie.  Pat’s ex- wife will be there.  The Eagles game has a lot of money riding on it.  And it’s very important to Tiffany.

The last few scenes in the film are triumphant.  I don’t think I’m giving much away when I say Pat and Tiffany end up together.  David O. Russell goes with a typical rom-com ending to his decidedly adult dramedy.  It feels incongruent but is just entertaining as all heck so I didn’t really care.

The film carries several themes about human mental health.  It shows the characters as fragile, sensitive beings who allow their lives to be profoundly affected by their close relationships.  Specifically, the film deals with the fragility of marriage.  Both Pat and Tiffany had unsuccessful marriages.  You see Dolores holding back to preserve her relationship with Pat Sr.  Julia Stiles wears the pants in her relationship, subjugating her husband and all other family members. Even though Pat professes that he loves his wife, he loves the idea of his wife more than the actual woman who filed a restraining order against him.   The abundance of bad examples lead Pat and Tiffany to question their romance.

I talked to a therapist about the accuracy of the mental illnesses in Silver Linings.  She said Bradley Cooper’s bipolar disorder was quite realistic but Robert De Niro could’ve done a little more homework on OCDP.  She also said Pat’s therapist was portrayed in an extremely inaccurate way.

“A therapist would never drink beer with their patients!” she insisted.

All in all, Silver Linings was a little too wordy and neurotic for me.  At times I felt like I was watching a 2- hour episode of Gilmore Girls.  But the film resolved itself well and featured glowing performances by Cooper and Lawrence.


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