Silver Linings Playbook might be clumsily titled but makes up for it with a rich, captivating screenplay and some thoroughly engaging characters. It’s a little off the wall, occasionally feeling slightly forced but it looks stunning and is held together brilliantly by a few magnificent central performances.
The drama begins with Pat (Bradley Cooper) leaving a mental institution after an 8 month spell inside on a plea bargain, returning himself to the ‘real world’. He discovers that his wife has taken out a restraining order against him, and he’s lost his house and job. He still holds on to his family and the love he shares for the Philadelphia Eagles with his overly superstitious father (Robert De Niro), along with the vague, slightly deluded hope of once more getting back together with his wife, while also struggling to cope with his bipolar which make him so unstable. Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) another troubled individual with enough problems of her own and they develop an odd, highly engaging relationship which is difficult to second guess.
Bradley Cooper crafts the most distinctive of characters, out of the ordinary and difficult to place. But as great as Cooper is, Jennifer Lawrence is simply outstanding, showing a maturity beyond her years, utterly convincing as someone older than herself, effortlessly shrugging off any notion of being typecast as ‘the girl from Hunger Games‘. It’s the relationship between the two which is yet more compelling, creating some of the most eccentric yet absorbing screen chemistry you’ll see this year. De Niro also does a wonderful job as Pat’s obsessive compulsive father and like all the characters in this film, you spend a lot of time trying to figure them out and this exploration is fascinating.
Director David Russell does a ridiculously good job at making it all look fantastic, with the camera panning in beat with the audience’s curiosity. There are moments when the plot feels a bit unnatural, particularly at the end when the drama centres on an audacious bet, but at least it all pays off well in the end. It’s a film littered with smartness and style, full of sharp dialogue and forever staying exactly on the right side of ‘edgy’.
Review by David Rank
Silver Linings Playbook is out now in the UK and out on 21st November in the UK and US. Certificate 15 (UK). Running time 122 mins.
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