Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro
You may like this if you liked: Crazy, Stupid, Love (Glenn Ficarra and John Requa 2011) Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2012) Dan in Real Life (Peter Hedges, 2007)
Silver Linings Playbook tells the story of Pat (Cooper) an ex teacher who, with the help of his mother, is released from a mental institution. He suffers from bipolar and the terms of his release are that he has to live at home under the supervision of his parents. Another reason for his institutionalization was that he attacked a colleague that was having an affair with his wife who has now left him and also has a restraining order against him. Pat now feels he is going to be ok and is determined to get his ex wife back. However along the way, he encounters many emotional obstacles and struggles to deal with them. Things then get even more complicated when he meets Tiffany (Lawrence) who has many emotional problems of her own.
First of all, it is important to state that I do not like romantic comedies; I find the whole genre very samey, predictable and cringe worthy. So when I saw this advertised I immediately dismissed it as just another rom-com. After all the Oscar nominations and some very good reviews I decided that I should give it a go. I must confess that I was pleasantly surprised. Of course, this is not a conventional rom-com as its main basis is around the subject of mental health. The subject of mental health is dealt with in a sensitive and open way, however the character’s particular problems almost feel like convenient plot devices and they do venture on to caricature. The story itself struggles to avoid the usual clichés that come with the genre; I know this was always going to happen, but everything feels way too neat and tidy and convenient. There are however some great moments and some very funny moments too. However, the tone feels uneven as the comedy is often based on the characters emotional problems leading to feeling unsure as to whether to actually laugh or feel sorry for the characters.
I must also confess that I am not a huge fan of Bradley Cooper; this is a much more challenging role than he usually plays, and he makes Pat likeable and we definitely want to route for him despite his obvious flaws. Jennifer Lawrence proved in Winter’s Bone that she is a very talented actress and gives a solid performance. The supporting cast also all give excellent performances.
Silver Linings Playbook is a superior addition to the romantic comedy collection, but struggles to avoid so many of the clichés that plague the genre. Though no masterpiece and becomes very predictable, there is enough here to forgive those and it is certainly worth a watch.