Full of charm, off-beat humor and endearing characters, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is that rare oddly romantic dramedy that works in nearly every aspect. The relationships between all the characters are authentic, the dialogue is sharp and the actors bring an extra element of likability that makes the film simply irresistible.
Recently released from a mental institute, Pat (Bradley Cooper) is required to move back home with his parents. Early on we learn that Pat is dealing with violent anger issues sparked from an incident involving his wife. They are currently separated with a restraining order against Pat who is having trouble accepting the end of their marriage. But a glimmer of hope comes along in the form of a peculiar girl name Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Mourning the death of her husband, Tiffany has her own emotional problems that helps align a commonality with Pat. Tiffany agrees to help Pat reconnect with his wife as long he agrees to help her in return.
While this initial synopsis sounds quite dark with possibly very unlikable characters, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Bradley Cooper (THE HANGOVER) and Jennifer Lawrence (THE HUNGER GAMES) do an incredibly amazing job making their quirky characters relatable and lovable. Both should garner a lot of attention come award season as they both phenomenally portray very troubled characters with depth and heart as well as humanly possible. I’ve been a fan of both of theirs before they were popular and they managed to impress me to a whole other level by pinpointing individual detailed character nuances.
David O. Russell who previously directed the Oscar nominated THE FIGHTER and the terrific THREE KINGS, provides his best work yet with SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. He manages to wrap this seemingly dramatic story into a delightfully humorous unconventional romantic comedy. By paying close attention to detail, everyone involved in the film display all the personality and behavior intricacies appropriate for each character and story arc. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK respects the audience by not cramming the information down our throats, but rather revealing it organically within the realms of the script and natural dialogue.
While the film relies heavily on the exquisite chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence, the supporting characters are a bonus aspect that make the film that much more enjoyable. Nearly every character is dealing with their own issues that in a lot of ways parallel Pat’s insanity. The similarities between them are not so far off, reflecting many individuals vulnerabilities. Indeed, most of the characters could have easily swapped places with Cooper’s Pat in the mental hospital.
Pat’s parents played by Jacki Weaver (ANIMAL KINGDOM) and Robert De Niro (LITTLE FOCKERS) add another layer in humor and drama. De Niro, who has recently had a series of poor roles and phoned in performances, is especially great as Pat’s OCD father that gets a little out of hand when dealing with his gambling habbits and his Philadelphia Eagles football fandom. Chris Tucker, John Ortiz and Julia Stiles are other great additions as functioning dysfunctional friends.
My slight complaint, if any, is the final moments on screen fall into the conventional Hollywood trap without a creative delivery. To be clear, I am not talking about the cheer inducing, show stopping finale of absurd proportions that the film fully earns and delivers superbly upon. In fact, after that point the SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK could really do no wrong and earns itself prominently among one of the best films of the year.