Written and directed by David O. Russell (The Fighter), Silver Linings Playbook is based on the 2008 novel by Matthew Quick and stars (Bradley Cooper) as Pat Solitano, a troubled man who has lost everything – his house, his job, and his wife.
After spending eight months in a Baltimore mental institution, Pat finds himself back in Philadelphia, living with his mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert De Niro). Despite a restraining order, Pat is determined to remain positive, rebuild his life, and reunite with his estranged wife Nikki (Brea Bee).
Meanwhile, Pat’s parents hope he’ll get back on his feet and take part in the family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles. Things take an unexpected turn when he meets kindred crazy person Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young woman trying to cope with her husband’s death by sleeping with everyone at her work.
Pat and Tiffany bond over their issues and idiosyncrasies, with ‘crazy person’ topics like the types of medication they’ve taken. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll return the favor by doing something very important for her – be her partner in a freestyle dance competition.
Silver Linings Playbook is a delightful, uplifting film that soars on incredible performances. Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) delivers a realistic portrayal of a worried, protective mother while DeNiro’s Pat Sr. is a bookmaker and sports fanatic, obsessively arranging his television remotes and rubbing his lucky handkerchief during Eagles games.
This is the best DeNiro has been since the mid-nineties. Sure, he was a funny caricature in films like Meet the Parents and Machete, but here he plays a living, breathing person who buries his emotions and attempts to bond with his troubled son over watching the game.
A father unable to express his emotions, Pat Sr. is forced to confront his son and in turn, open up and address some of his own emotional hangups. DeNiro deserves Best Supporting Actor for this role and I sincerely hope the Academy recognizes him for his work here.
Cooper and Lawrence display versatility and surprising range in their performances as imperfect people searching for a silver lining. Usually with romantic comedies, the reasons for love are inherent: Katherine Heigl is super attractive, Gerard Butler is super attractive – they should hook up (so I can watch).
But here, there is a real, palpable chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence – they need each other, and we love watching them repair each other’s broken heart and mind… and of course they’re drop-dead gorgeous and sexy as all get-out, so that doesn’t hurt either.
Silver Linings Playbook is one of the best films of the year – and a great followup to David O. Russell’s 2010 film, The Fighter. I think it gets nominated across the board, from acting to Adapted Screenplay, Director, and Best Picture.
A humorous, relatable journey into all matters of the heart, Silver Linings Playbook is a reminder that we’ve all got baggage and problems and stuff to worry about – but we can get past it and find things that make life worth living.