After watching Silver Linings Playbook, I have a newfound appreciation for tragic comedies, though I don’t think many will outdo this film anytime soon. Director and screenwriter David Russell has created a gripping film that highlights an omnipresent, yet overlooked, problem central to modern-day American life: personal psychological strife. Often times rooted in familial troubles, these emotional conflicts plague multiple characters in Silver Linings Playbook.The authentic and relatable nature of the plot, in conjunction with standout performances by a star-studded cast, makes Playbook a standout movie
Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper [COL ‘97]) lost everything: his wife, his home and his job. After a stint in a mental institutional, he finds himself back at home with his parents, played by Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver. With an optimistic disposition, he dedicates his time to getting in shape and passionately reading his wife’s high school English class’ reading list in order to win her back. His earnest strivings are admirable yet comical largely due to the fact that they are in vain, and his efforts become even more futile when he meets the enigmatic Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence).
Pat’s parents, devout Philadelphia Eagles fans, just want to see him get back on his feet. To the Solitanos, Sunday is the most important day of the week because it means one thing: game day. Worried that the void in Pat’s life stemmed from their obsession with football, his parents try to connect with him, but Pat is distracted by his mission to get his life back to the way it was.
Tiffany, a conniving young woman haunted by the death of her husband, gives Pat an ultimatum. She promises to help him reconnect with his wife, but only if he helps her with an endeavor of her own.
The energy between Pat and Tiffany is like nothing I have ever seen. They’re both self-proclaimed “nut jobs,” and although their psychological problems cause them to constantly clash, their underlying tenderness is what keeps them coming back to each other. This realness is what makes the film both dramatic and comedic. The characters all have their own quirks, which make them genuine and altogether more endearing. You root for these delusional characters because their relatable idiosyncrasies are impossible to resist.
Silver Linings Playbook is one of Cooper’s strongest roles. His character is both earnest and misunderstood, trying to bounce back from his emotional turmoil, but he is also a naturally funny guy attempting to figure out his life. Of course, there are scenes where the context of the movie fades and you just want to stare at him, but this role requires a range of abilities and Cooper steps up to the plate.
Lawrence, armed with the same fierce energy she brought to The Hunger Games, demands attention. Her character’s multifaceted personality gives her the opportunity to show the world that she is the talented young actress that she promised to be in her award-winning performance in Winter’s Bone. I’m excited to see where she goes following this strong presentation.
Silver Linings Playbook won a People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival and is a frontrunner for winning more distinctions come awards season. It is sure to get your nod of approval, and it definitely got mine. The beautifully executed film reminds you that through all of life’s ups and downs, it’s always best to find a silver lining.