Silver Linings Playbook

7 Apr

silver linings


Director: David O. Russell

Writers: David O. Russell (screenplay), Matthew Quick (novel)

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

Motion Picture Rating: R

Runtime: 122 minutes


Here is another recent award winner that comes to the small screen on the back of major critical and box-office success. The director, David O Russell, is well liked by critics. He has an eclectic back catalogue that includes Flirting with Disaster (excellent), Three Kings (good), I Heart Huckabees (poor) and The Fighter (very good). He is not a prolific director, but like Gus Van Sant, another US ‘50’s born film-maker, he usually delivers something interesting and leftfield.

The subject matter here is certainly not mainstream. Both leads suffer from forms of mental illness and their journey towards living ‘normal’ lives is what drives the film forward. The setting is a working class neighbourhood of Philadelphia and the home of Pat Solatano, recently released from a psychiatric ward and back living with his parents. Pat beat up his estranged wife’s lover and suffers from anger issues. He is also horribly direct; what he thinks he says and it’s rarely complimentary and never dull.

Pat (Bradley Cooper) struggles with his similarly angry father Pat Snr (Robert De Niro) and his mother (Jacki Weaver) works hard to keep the peace. That is a believable set up and the three characters combine nicely. The father and son dynamic is one of the main themes and it is clear that Pat Snr’s lack of patience, superstitious nature and compulsive behaviour have influenced his son. Apples rarely fall far from the tree.

Whilst Pat is working on himself and seeking that elusive silver lining, he runs into Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). She is a young widow who turned to promiscuity and prescription drugs to manage her grief. Tiffany shares Pat’s directness and the two immediately make an engaging pair. The film is mostly about their highly unconventional courtship and to that end Cooper and Lawrence play off each other brilliantly. Cooper is particularly good playing the bi-polar Pat and deserves equal credit with the more feted Lawrence.

This is a good film with excellent performances. For US mainstream movies it is brave in its subject matter and it is prepared to jump around in tone as per the real lives of the mentally ill. Pat is bi-polar and his mood swings colour the film with drama, humour and sadness in equal measure. The film that this most reminded me of is Good Will Hunting by Gus Van Sant and anyone who enjoyed that will like this. The locations are very similar, the unconventional camerawork is present, and there is an abundance of honesty and humanity on display.

One Response to “Silver Linings Playbook”


  1. Are Five Hearts Better than Five Stars? | Grumpa Joe's Place - April 10, 2013

    […] Silver Linings Playbook ( […]

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