Silver Linings Playbook is the rom-com for people who don't like rom-coms. More than that, it's a film that deals with loss, redemption and self-discovery.
David O. Russell, wrote and directed a story that is raw, charming and moving all at once. His recent eye for relationship building is taken a step further since his last feature, The Fighter.
Bradley Cooper, in his best role to date, plays Pat, a former teacher with bipolar disorder and fresh out of a Baltimore mental health facility. His reformation is coming along but his mental success hinges on achieving personal success - winning back his wife, Nikki, whom he lost when he caught her sleeping with another man, and beat the crap out of him. The problem is that his life isn't the same, Nikki is now his ex-wife and she has a restraining order out on him. Pat, at the same time, is still technically recovering, and his parents (Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver) are wary that he might relapse.
Enter Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young woman who handled the sudden death of her husband with with disastrous results. The pair form a relationship which at the beginning is merely give and take - Tiffany promises to help him re-establish ties with Nikki, and in turn Pat agrees to be his partner for a local dance competition. What's important to know is they're both damaged goods - Pat is clinging to his past, lacks tact and has a violent streak; while Tiffany slept her pain away, slept her way out of her job and doesn't hold back, either. The pair, as crazy as they are, are therapy for each other and it's amazing to find yourself rooting for both of them.
The reason Silver Linings Playbook works so well is amid all the disfunction everything is relatable. Married couples do cheat on each other, spouses lose their significant others suddenly and without warning, fathers sometimes only relate to their sons through sports, mothers are the only sane thread that holds the crazy family quilt together. All that is here, and thanks to great performances from Cooper, Lawrence, DeNiro and Weaver, Silver Linings is a winning proposition. JV