When we started browsing through the cinema line-up in early April, neither me, nor my cinemagoer partner-in-crime did not have a specific idea as to what to watch. He would have preferred a movie that is not the usual cliché chick-flick and has meaning and I would have preferred a film in which no driving around like madmen was shown. That’s how we decided to watch ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, the movie adaptation of Matthew Quick’s book by the same title, written and directed by David O. Russel. It won an Oscar after all, it could not be that bad.
The story starts when Pat Jr., portrayed by Bradley Cooper, is leaving a mental hospital where he had been kept after beating up his wife’s lover. His mother is taking him home to live with his parents until he fully recovers. He desperately tries to become a new, better man to prove that he has changed so that his ex-wife would take him back. Whilst working hard to achieve his goals, he meets Tiffany, a widow in her early twenties, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who has her own problems. Her husband died and she became a sex-addict and she is coping with her new life in her own way, by training hard so that she could participate in a dance competition.
Throughout the first half of the movie, in a way, nothing makes sense. We see two broken people, trying to figure out their lives but they do not always succeed. Their dialogues are awkward, they argue all the time, ask inappropriate questions and seem to care about their own aims more than anything else that is happening around them. We see the drama, we feel that they cannot express themselves because they have not figured out themselves yet.
However, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ manages to depict their hard time in a funny and charming way. The viewer cannot help but laugh out loud at Pat’s childish questions and declarations or Tiffany’s remarks. What makes it even funnier is Pat’s parents, Dolores (Jacki Weaver) and Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and how they try to put up with their son’s outbursts (just take for instance Pat’s scene in his parents’ bedroom at four in the morning, blaming Earnest Hemingway for waking them up – hilarious).
The underlying drama starts to resolve halfway through the movie, though, after both Tiffany and Pat realises that they need each other to reach their goals. We see them become friends and this is the point in the movie when the viewer can have a feeling that everything that is happening is all too familiar. It is no longer drama, rather a romantic comedy. We can sense that they start to feel more towards the other than pure friendship. For a moment I felt disappointed because I thought it would turn out to be different than all the other movies, but I grew so fond of Pat’s and Tiffany’s characters that I did not mind what the story turned out to be, I wanted them to find happiness and peace with themselves and each other.
The characters become less complicated, the viewer can understand what they want and their ambitions are real. By the end of the movie, everything makes sense and even though for a minute they try to make the viewer believe that there would not be a completely happy ending, the movie sticks to its genre – in a romantic comedy the two main characters just have to end up together.
Bradley Cooper plays the recovering bi-polar illusionist convincingly, but it is Jennifer Lawrence’s Tiffany who makes Pat’s character stand out from the ordinary, making their journey through their recovery engaging and interesting enough to be different than other troubled characters who have appeared on the silver screen before. Also, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver’s works have to be mentioned as well, the supporting roles showing just as many emotion as the other characters and backing the main storyline nicely.
All in all, I do believe that ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ is different than other romantic comedies, balancing the drama and the love story well, making it an interesting movie experience. I would recommend this film for all the rom-com lovers who look for something that is a bit different and for those who like underlying psychological issues. Also, this is a movie that even a supportive boyfriend or husband can sit through and will not wait for only the closing credits to show up.
By: Anita Simon