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Silver Linings Playbook - Review

Silver Linings Playbook

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DAVID O Russell’s adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel is in many ways every bit as messed up as the characters it depicts. But that only adds to the enjoyment of this crowd-pleaser.

Gleefully flirting with convention and then slapping it down whenever possible, the film is an edgy, dysfunctional drama about dealing with mental illness that also functions as the year’s most unlikely rom-com.

Pat (Bradley Cooper) is a highly strung former teacher struggling with bipolar and his wife’s infidelity who is released from a psychiatric facility into the care of his mother, Dolores (Jackie Weaver) and superstitious father, Pat Sr (Robert De Niro).

Determined to put his life back on track and get back with his wife, Pat then meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young woman struggling to cope with the death of her husband who has a similarly tarnished reputation to rebuild.

Reluctantly (on Pat’s part), they become friends and in return for helping Pat make contact with his wife, Tiffany convinces him to be her partner in a forthcoming dance tournament.

While containing elements of a lot of conventional movies, Silver Linings Playbook still manages to seem fresh, and even subversive, by virtue of O Russell’s muscular direction.

There’s a hyper energy running throughout the picture that seems designed to reflect the central characters’ sustained anxieties and which, especially early on, gives rise to a lot of volatile confrontations and hostility.

It’s a ploy that arguably lends the ending of the film a greater emotional authenticity, although even then O Russell ensures that no victory is easily achieved and avoids any temptation to fall into schmaltz.

Cooper, for his part, turns in a career best performance as the unhinged Pat, mixing a wired charisma with the frequent ability to be a jerk. You’ll be rooting for him nonetheless.

Lawrence, meanwhile, is sensational as Tiffany, once again demonstrating a maturity beyond her years to give a complex and easy to get wrong character a tremendous amount of heart and soul.

It’s also good to see De Niro sinking his teeth back into some material that challenges him, while there’s notable support from Weaver, Shea Whigham (as Pat’s brother) and especially Chris Tucker (as Pat’s surprisingly charismatic friend).

Hence, while undoubtedly flawed and deliberately rough around the edges, Silver Linings Playbook is a genuinely heart-warming experience that’s all the more memorable for its willingness to take some risks along the way.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 109mins
UK Release Date: November 21, 2012