Directed and adapted by David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook is based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick. Examining a number of relationships and mental illnesses, the film follows Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), an ex-teacher with bipolar disorder who moves back in with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) after being released from a psychiatric hospital. Determined to win back his estranged wife and rebuild his previous life, things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with her own problems, who tells Pat that she will help him get his wife back if he enters a dance competition with her. As an unexpected bond begins to form between them, silver linings appear in both of their lives.
Silver Linings Playbook was a surprising hit at this year’s award ceremonies, being nominated in all four acting categories, with Lawrence winning four awards for Best Actress, and winning the BAFTA award for Best Adapted Screenplay and four Independent Spirit Awards including Best Film. Why? Because it was undeniably the best romantic drama that 2012 had to offer.
Both funny and emotionally honest, Silver Linings Playbook is a completely lovely romantic dramedy that gives a heart-warming look at mental illness, without being patronising or throwing anything too serious in your face. SLP may be more romance than comedy but it’s not your typical boy-meets-girl. This film is about its two characters, both separately and as a couple. Whether they come together at the end or not doesn’t become the main focus of the plot, rather how they and their families learn to deal with their own issues. Its focus on something much more important is why it is so compelling. It may be quite simple in terms of narrative structure and plot but because of this, it all feels natural. With its focus on finding a silver lining in life when things don’t quite work out also means that it’s quite easy to identify with some of the situations, if not the characters themselves.
The cast is a massive quality of the film, with Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro, especially, giving excellent performances, each playing their characters perfectly. For me, it was Lawrence who stood out the most, however, as it’s been a while since we’ve seen her in such a genuine role; she’s definitely done better (I love her in Winter’s Bone), but it’s a brilliant contrast to her more adolescent role in The Hunger Games. Both her and Cooper, who gives one of his best performances yet, portray their slightly crazy characters flawlessly, and they make such a great on-screen couple, as well. I found myself relating to Tiffany in many aspects of her life (mainly her slightly delusional feelings involving males!) so I was really able to engage with the film on a personal level, making me love it that little bit more.
There will always be a part of me that is dirty and sloppy, but I like that, just like all the other parts of myself.
Everything about this just exceeded my expectations on every level and it was far more impressive than I thought it would be.