If you enjoy offbeat comedies with a dash of the deep and meaningful in the fashion of little Miss Sunshine, then you’re going to enjoy Silver Linings Playbook. It might be a little predictable and sometimes contrived, but each and every performer has brought their A-game! This ensemble cast entertain and engage!
Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is released into the care of his parents Dolores, and Pat Snr, (Jacki Weaver, Robert DeNiro) after spending time in a mental institution. Pat is determined to find a “silver lining” to his life, get it back on track and reconcile with his ex-wife. However things become rather complicated when he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who is just as troubled as he is.
It’s an interesting tale, one built on its characters and one designed to ask the question “who is really the crazy one?”. Each major character in the story has some kind of character flaw and its related to some kind of mental illness. Pat Snr is clearly suffering from at least OCD if not mild autism, while the rest all convey flaws like narcissism, high levels of anxiety, etc. It’s a welcome sense of depth and the film rely’s heavily on it. At times the two character who are meant to be mentally ill, Pay and Tiffany, are in fact the only sane people.
It’s also given the cast a chance to really shine. De Niro is fantastic, as is Jacki Weaver, they are masters of their trade and they prove it with excellent performances. Cooper and lawrence do more than hold their own next to them, which is a significant development as neither have really excelled in any kind of serious role before. It’s for these performances that I recommend seeing this film, because not much else is worth writing home about.
There is a formula starting to emerge for movies that deal with the difficult subject of mental illness. A set of unwritten rules if you please that revolve around making the subject matter appealing to the audience. You have to be serious, but not too serious. Because the characters have a mental illness, their behavior can be humorous. At times Silver Linings Playbook does this a little too much, often sidelining any plot, or logic to develop the story in a “cooky” manner. This is acceptable because in a film about mental illness, things do not have to make sense. I’m nitpicking, yes, but it is an emerging trend and I think it deserves to be called out.
The film also suffers a great deal from cliche, it borrows too heavily from the romantic comedy genre complete with all its conventions. I was a little disappointed that such strong characters were not given more story to chew on, but again, fortunately their strength holds the film for its two hour running time.
Silver Linings Playbook is a feel good movie with a good message at its heart. It’s a solid win as a date movie for couples this Valentines Day, it won’t tax you too heavily but it will delight.