David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” unites comedy, drama and romance all into one to create what may be one of the most memorable movies of the year. In short, Russell has crafted an incredible film.
Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover Part II”), as Pat Solitano, plays a unique, somewhat troubled young man who was recently released from a mental health facility after spending eight months trying to come to terms with his mental illness. Back living with his parents, Pat tries to grasp onto his former life as a substitute teacher and a loving husband. His uncontrollable love for his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee, “The Best and the Brightest”) remains in the forefront of his mind, and he constantly tries to win her back. Although this seems like the only thing keeping him stable, his marriage also happens to be tearing him apart.
With the limits of a restraining order and some painful memories that Pat cannot seem to forget, he sometimes struggles to control himself and loses his temper around the people who care about him the most. This often leaves him walking on a fine line with the authorities.
The one thing that seems to keep Pat sane is running, which is how he gets to know Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence, “The Hunger Games”), the sister of Pat’s best friend’s wife. Tiffany has some struggles of her own after the death of her husband, and their like-mindedness is what builds their connection. As the two spend more time together, we find out what happened to dissolve Pat’s marriage and why he ended up in the institution.
As their friendship progresses, Tiffany promises to help Pat reach out to Nikki through a series of letters if he, in turn, partners with her in a dance competition. Apprehensive at first, Pat agrees and practices daily to perfect their dance for the big show. While all of this is occurring, Pat balances time with his father, a diehard Eagles fan who believes his son is a good luck charm.
Through a number of events, his gambling father makes a bet with high stakes to make some money for a restaurant he is hoping to open, leading to the unforgettable climax of the movie. Toward the end, Pat has his first encounter with Nikki at the dance competition. The inconceivable connection with Tiffany and his long lost love with Nikki leaves Pat with a difficult decision that unfolds into a truly beautiful ending.
The humor found in Pat’s erratic behaviors and his dysfunctional family, pairs with romance and the devastation of a mental illness to create this exceptional work of art. This film, unlike the typical romantic comedy, takes its audience on a wild journey of this unexpected yet functional friendship.
Even though we see Pat at his very worst, we get to watch him heal with a much healthier life than he clearly had before. Bradley Cooper’s most memorable line sums up Pat’s attitude and the underlying message of the film: “This is what I believe to be true. You have to do everything you can, and if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.”
The cast of Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver was a successful combination, even though the large age gap between the two main characters may have initially been off-putting for some.
The general plot of the movie was fairly unique. The movie came together well at the end after its slight confusion in the first half, and although it had its cheesy moments, the cast portrayed real-life problems in a compelling manner. There is no doubt this emotional rollercoaster of a movie is an all-around crowd-pleaser for all ages. With the multiple genres that coexist in this film, it is a good bet it will be up for a few Oscars.
4 out of 5 stars