Film Review: Silver Linings Playbook

Does every cloud really have a silver lining? Pat Solatano (The Hangover’s Bradley Cooper) is hopeful of its existence but his situation indicates otherwise. He’s lost his job, his house and his wife, and after an eight-month stint in a state mental institution, he finds himself living again with his parents.Cooper’s character is intricately disturbed. Recently diagnosed with bipolar, the former teacher struggles to find solace from his father (Meet the Parents’ Robert DeNiro) who suffers from a nervous disorder of his own. His mother, played amiably by Australia’s own Jacki Weaver, establishes balance between the pair. However, in a house encumbered by superstition, aggression triggers and an arguably odd obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team, Pat has difficulty rebuilding his life.Enter Tiffany (The Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence), a deeply sad and equally disturbed young woman who appears to have a better handle on her life… well, sort of: “I was a slut. 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. I can forgive.”Tiffany promises to help Pat reconnect with his wife in return for his help on a project very important to her. They strike up a friendship outside the realm of Pat’s too-familiar home and the twisted love story begins; only it devolves and become somewhat charming.In this romantic comedy-drama directed and written by David O. Russell, each central character desperately needs the other to help combat feelings of loneliness, confusion, misery and resentment, while ultimately trying to forgive. The film’s creator has handled these emotions not only with professionalism — the clinical aspects of Pat’s illness in particular are visualised and verbalised truly — but also with a sense of humour that is endearing to the characters and not at all disrespectful. And despite the touchy subject matter, the director manages to emanate each scene and every shot with certain warmth.The same goes for the actors. Cooper is believable as the main protagonist displaying charm in a way only an “established” Hollywood heartthrob can. DeNiro is intense in his performance as usual; though you could sense he had an emotional attachment to his character. And Jennifer Lawrence, having recently won an Oscar for Best Actress among many other prestigious acting awards for her role, undoubtedly stood out in a spirited display that gelled the narrative together.Adapted from a novel of the same name by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook offers a very real insight into the poignant challenges and relationship pitfalls that come with having a mental illness, while simultaneously delving viewers into a light-hearted, laugh-inducing and overall enjoyable story.Silver Linings Playbook is now showing in Australian cinemasby Jessica Buccolieri

March 3rd 2013
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