By: Bryan Montgomery
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
A sure-fire Oscar contender, Silver Linings Playbook is a product of the outstanding performances its cast turns in. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are at the top of their game in this witty, funny and strongly-scripted comedy from the director of The Fighter.
After returning from an eight-month stint in a psychiatric ward, Pat (Cooper) begins to make progress towards winning his wife back, who he has not seen since the episode that put him into the ward in the first place. He meets Tiffany (Lawrence), who shares some of the same issues as him and together they begin a friendship and help each other through the issues they face.
Director David O’Russell walked a thin line with Silver Linings Playbook, a movie about mental disorders and people who deal with them on a daily basis. With the trailers showing that the film would have a very light-hearted attitude towards it, it became obvious that the entire film would hinge on the performance of its two stars. Both Cooper and Lawrence knock it out of the park and make this movie immensely entertaining while you feel emotionally attached to the characters.
Cooper’s role is multi-faceted, focusing first on the ultimate objective of retrieving his wife. You see inside of Pat’s family life; the OCD of his father (Robert DeNiro) and his unhealthy obsession with his football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. You see his relationship with his achieving brother, creating a great professional life while Pat’s sole profession prior to his incarceration was a substitute teacher. The issues weighing on Pat go as far as his friend, who is feeling the crunch of the economy while dealing with a needy wife and a newborn baby.
Pat is mesmerizing throughout the film, he also has his own fair share of laughs. In the first twenty minutes of the film, focusing on reading his wife’s entire ninth grade syllabus, he has a hilarious scene when reading A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. His condition only gets worse throughout the film but is only abated when he spends time with Tiffany, which creates some immensely memorable scenes fueled by the perfect chemistry between the two stars.
Lawrence’s portrayal of Tiffany has already earned her a Golden Globe nomination, such as is the case with her co-star Cooper, but the chance for Lawrence to take the award is much more likely. Tiffany is a hilarious character and she steals the show during every scene that she is in. Having dinner with Pat and her sister’s family; Tiffany turns the tables during dinner and has an in-depth conversation with Pat over what medications they take. A few scenes later, she tells Pat about why she was fired from her last job.
A gruff and difficult demeanor to start the film; soon Tiffany starts to warm up to Pat and lets him into more aspects of her life. Working as a dancer and a widow, we soon start to see that Tiffany is flawed and still broken after the death of her husband of three years. Lawrence has her moments where she really gets to show off her acting chops and by the end of the film you are no longer feeling that you ware watching one of the most talented young actors in film on screen. You truly become engrossed in Tiffany’s character and end up rooting for her by the end of the movie.
The supporting cast is also strong. DeNiro plays a character who everyone knows in one way or another; the uber-superstitious fan who cannot miss one game of their favorite teams. You even get a quick peek at DeNiro’s study, in which he has tapes of every Eagles game sitting on the shelf. Chris Tucker has moments as Pat’s friend from the psychiatric institution who uses every loophole he can to attempt to get out of the ward.
Silver Linings Playbook works because the actors put their all into their roles and it shows. Cooper and Lawrence have cemented their place in the awards season because of their knockout performances in the film. Cooper’s character is tragic but still interesting; you can’t help but cheer for him at every twist and turn in the film. Lawrence is nothing short of extraordinary; she owns the role of Tiffany and if this is a sign of things to come with her level of talent, we are in for a good several years of Lawrence in leading roles. Silver Linings Playbook is a definite must-see and one of the most well-executed movies of the year.