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Silver Linings Playbook

2012 | 122 min | R | 2.39:1

Silver Linings Playbook


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4 user reviews

Movie appeal




Theatrical release date

 21 November, 2012
 21 November, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




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Screenshots from Silver Linings Playbook Blu-ray

Silver Linings Playbook Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, October 24, 2012

Reviewed at the 2012 Twin Cities Film Fest

There’s only one filmmaker nutty enough to tackle the manic highs and lows of “Silver Linings Playbook,” and that’s David O. Russell. Rocketing forward after his last picture, 2010’s “The Fighter,” was showered with box office success and Oscar gold, Russell cooks up another vibrant spectacle of bad behavior and personal triumph, only instead of boxers and drug abuse, this material covers mental illness and a profound fear of pills. A slyly hilarious, refreshingly vulnerable dramedy, “Silver Linings Playbook” is a feature of constant surprise. And when Russell calls on cliché to dig out an ending, he does so with extraordinary skill and euphoric cinematic energy.

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is a complicated, unfiltered man locked up in a mental hospital after his bipolar issues climaxed with the beating of his wife’s lover. Returning to his childhood home with passive mother Delores (a sweetly hesitant Jacki Weaver), Pat is confronted with the mess of his life and parental judgment from father Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), whose own OCD struggles have him tied to the fate of his beloved Philadelphia Eagles football team. With his focus solely fixed on reuniting with his estranged wife, Pat dedicates himself entirely to the quest, despite a restraining order and the disapproval of his friends (including John Ortiz). Without access to his spouse, Pat turns to Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) for help, using her family connections to send a letter to his better half that details his regret and hopes for the future. Discovering a kinship with the young, depressed widower, Pat finds himself struggling to remain on target, a task challenged when Tiffany requests his presence to help train for an upcoming couples dance competition.

Adapting the 2008 book by author Matthew Quick, Russell accepts the challenge of depicting Pat’s chaotic headspace, using short bursts of swirling camera moves to create an intimacy with the character’s disorientation and speed of thought. Pat is not a monster, but he’s a broken man with certain triggers (including a Stevie Wonder song) that lead him to violence, with the director ordering up a tight visual style that’s confrontational, bringing viewers into this illness with velocity and chunky editing. It takes a few moments to feel the electric current of the cinematography, but the charge soon becomes a supporting character, assisting in the visceral comprehension of Pat’s manic behavior, a trait passed down from his equally wounded father, who subscribes entirely to the “juju” of the Eagles, trusting the proper stroke of a green bandana and placement of television remotes will help the team to victory. The manner Russell clarifies this itch of compulsion is extraordinary, carrying the feature on a rush of anxiety.

While the atmosphere is thick with troubling thoughts and extreme reactions, Russell keeps “Silver Linings Playbook” surprisingly accessible, finding dark humor in Pat’s feverish behavior. It’s a funny movie, though it takes time for this sensation to sink in. After all, Pat is an agitated man, and the script embraces that volatility, using his freak-outs and ramblings to sustain a reality to his mental fracture, scraping all the cute out of the situation. There’s also concern for Tiffany, who’s compensated for the sudden loss of her husband by engaging in promiscuous behavior, further isolating her from the world. There’s a romantic tone to the picture as Pat and Tiffany learn to trust each other, bonding through jogging and a shared mistrust of medication, yet Russell maintains distance to the relationship, gradually bringing their attraction into view, strengthening the impact of the pairing.

True to Pat’s psychological fury, “Silver Linings Playbook” bursts forth with raging music, restless characters, and subplots, even taking the action to an Eagles tailgate party, which, to the surprise of no one living in Philadelphia, ends in fisticuffs. Russell keeps the material raw yet strangely gregarious, promoting Pat’s misfit ways as charisma, despite his frequent severity. The miracle of the movie is how deftly it balances horror with hilarity, locating a sweet spot of family ties and personal delusions to mine with superb timing and tonality.

The cast is uniformly spectacular, welcoming De Niro back to the land of the living with his work here. Engaged and eager to play with a colorful role, the legendary actor displays alertness that’s eluded him in recent years, keeping Pat Sr. a compelling figure of doubt and fatherly desire Russell needs to ground the picture. Real magic is found with Cooper and Lawrence, who display remarkable chemistry as the frazzled leads, creating a barbed interplay that melts into trust and love. They’re showy roles, but the talent doesn’t overplay the obvious, finding Cooper making a home inside irritated Pat’s skin, working the outbursts and thought tsunamis as a natural extension of the man’s daily life, removing the Very Important Movie aspects of the character study. Lawrence is equally secure in her choices, while adding a necessary feminine element to a stifling story, perfectly matching Cooper’s speed.

Russell goes for a big ending, yet his enthusiasm for the moment is precisely the support “Silver Linings Playbook” requires to keep the audience invested in these scattered minds. While it commences as a challenging explosion of delirium, it slides gracefully into a grand finale that’s satisfying, sweet, and appropriately photographed like a riot video. Only a man with a celebrated history of behind-the-scenes altercations with movie stars and a prominent YouTube video of his on-set ravings could possibly mastermind a marvelous feature like “Silver Linings Playbook,” and I’m delighted he made the effort to crack this formidable material.

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker, Shea Whigham
Director: David O. Russell

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