When Pat (Bradley Cooper) is released from a psychiatric facility, he vows to get his life back on track and win his wife back. That is, until he makes a connection with Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young woman suffering similar grief and struggles.
After the cinematic disaster of Hit & Run – which admittedly had some pretty cars – it was time for Bradley Cooper to remind audiences of what he is capable of. In Silver Linings Playbook, Cooper plays anything but the pretty boy we saw him as in The Hangover, and proves that he has more to offer than the one-dimensional role in Hit & Run. Cooper has a slightly manic look in his eye for much of the film and plays Pat as a character who is desperately searching for a human connection, but wants nothing more than to be left alone. Cooper carefully negotiates Pat’s dichotomous emotional issues without ever overdoing it. As well as this, Cooper makes Pat a character the audience can sympathise with, but never pity.
Jennifer Lawrence is fast proving herself to be an actress with many talents. As Tiffany, Lawrence blends anger and vulnerability, making Tiffany a curious combination of both. She is the anchor that brings Pat back to earth and, while their storyline may be a little convenient; it is charming and well timed.
Robert DeNiro gives his most solid performance in years as Pat Snr, and it is the little glimpses he gives of the family that allow the audience to learn more about Cooper’s character and the road that led him to where he is now. Chris Tucker is astounding in his role as Danny. He doesn’t manage to steal the show, but nor does he try and outshine the leading actors. Tucker gives one of his most gentle and warm performances to date and certainly his most interesting since he got lost in the Rush Hour franchise.
Silver Linings Playbook is based on a novel by Matthew Quick and, while it would be convenient to say that Pat and Tiffany manage to dance themselves sane, there is a little more to the story than this. By bringing in the issues both characters face in their family life, this film turns from two people dancing themselves together to a gentle and subtle examination of the effect family can have on us. That said, it seems that screenwriter / director David O. Russell has taken a cue from Oscar bait films such as The Blind Side, and created a sweet film about people coming together, but glossed over the issues to a degree. Yes, the issues are there, but they are sometimes lost underneath the story that is trying to be a romantic comedy while also trying not to be. However, full credit must go to Russell for coaxing nuanced and understated performances from his actors.
Silver Linings Playbook is a quiet film about friendship, family and how the issues that plague us can sometimes bring us together. That said, the film sometimes suffers from trying to be all things to all people, but in the end it is charming and warm, if a little convenient.