'Silver Linings Playbook' focuses on the plights of protagonist Patrick (Bradley Cooper), who, after almost beating his wife's lover to death upon finding the pair of them in the shower, was sentenced to eight months in a mental institution. He's lost his wife, his home and his job over this one moment of senseless violence, and ends up living with his mother (Jacki Weaver) and his father (Robert De Niro). His obsession with winning back his wife Nikki is apparent from the offset, seeming to be the only thing that he has on his mind... until he meets the mysterious and deeply troubled Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). The two form an alliance and Tiffany agrees to help Patrick get letters to Nikki (which he can't do on his own due to a certain restraining order), but only if he agrees to do something for her in return...
The film's trailer.
Bradley Cooper was fantastic as Patrick, the manic-depressive who is still very much in love with his cheating (ex)-wife. His desperate attempts to become worthy of being with her once more makes for some heart-wrenching viewing. I feel as though he captures the extremities of bipolar disorder surprisingly well, and am glad to see that the writers did not exploit the condition for a plot twist. Robert De Niro once again reminds us why he’s worthy of his Hollywood royalty status. His depiction of an American football mad, obsessive compulsive father was flawless.
It was Jennifer Lawrence’s performance however that completely blew me away. The emotional rawness that she portrayed so effortlessly throughout the film is something that even more experienced actresses struggle with. She completely disappears behind the character of Tiffany, who could have came across irritating if the wrong actress was chosen to play her. Lawrence was perfectly cast in this role however, allowing for the audience to empathise with Tiffany’s grieving process and share her heartbreak. The way that apathy and vulnerability poured from her eyes during most scenes, half-formed tears collecting in them, is probably what I commend her for most. This has probably just become my favourite performance of 2012.
David O. Russell’s direction was fantastic. The way in which he made the audience feel dazed during Pat’s frenzied search for his wedding tape was a stroke of genius. The implementation of quick edits and the music was particularly affective and helped the viewer to really get into Pat’s head.
The cinematography looked beautiful, with the warm colours helping to reflect the optimistic outlook on life that Pat has recently adopted. If I were asked to pick faults, I’d say that a number of shots were a little bit shaky and could have benefited from the use of a tripod, this is the case for the close up shots in particular.
Russell, not content with just directing the film, also penned the screenplay. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is beautifully written. It might be a little slow to start off with, but once Tiffany is introduced, it begins to pick up momentum and proves to be an interesting watch. Mental illnesses are used as a platform for comedy, but thankfully not in an offensive way. In fact, I consider the character's mannerisms and struggles to be some of the most realistic cinematic depictions of what it is like to be suffering from mental illness of recent times. As for the character’s themselves, I found them to be as charming as they were compelling, and consider them to be some of the most three-dimensionally written characters of the year.
Hands down my favourite rom-com of 2012, with some of the best performances that I have seen all year. It probably won't be to everybody's tastes, and the humour is anything bar thick and fast, but the comedy in the film all felt very natural and the drama that fills in the parts in between makes for enjoyable viewing. I recommend catching it before it goes out of cinemas.