Posted on 2/01/13 02:31 PM
"Silver Linings Playbook" has the feeling of an old 1940s romance. Perhaps something starring Jimmy Stewart. Bradley Cooper ("Pat") certainly fills the bill as the distressed but nice guy who has a breakdown after catching his wife in the arms of another man. Sprung from the mental hospital by his ma, he's determined to "make his marriage work" and "win back his wife" (who has a restraining order against him). His life has all but bottomed out yet he remains remarkably upbeat. But when reality is so devastatingly life-crushing, the only alternative is to ignore it. As he obsessively tries to figure out a way to win his wife back, his family and friends decide upon a different course in helping his recovery. They arrange a blind date with the young and recently widowed Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). She is just as devastated by the destruction of her marriage, but deals with it in a very different manner. Meanwhile, Pat's father (Robert De Niro) is a highly superstitious bookmaker suffering from OCD who believes everything his son does has an effect on the football games. All of these elements come to a head in a climactic (I kid you not) dance competition at the end.
Silver Linings Playbook has all the elements of a quirky indie film, ala "Little Miss Sunshine" or "Juno", but also, like I said before it's such an old-fashioned movie. I've seen many a movie from the 40s that had a certain tone throughout most of the movie only to throw it all out in the final scene or two. It can be daring or it can be pandering. Silver Linings Playbook flirts with exposing these raw nerves only to pull it back and pursue the safer endings. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does feel a little like bait-and-switch. It's a fine movie with fine performances but the writing is a little too weak for my taste.