WRITTEN BY: David O. Russell
DIRECTED BY: David O'Russell
STARRING: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jacki Weaver
RATING: 2.5 stars
I feel like Silver Linings Playbook thinks it's more witty and intelligent than it actually is. While I enjoyed parts of the film, I ultimately found myself wondering what the point was. Is it that people with a mental illness feel love too? Well, of course they do. We don't need Hollywood to tell us that. While the film aims to show the positive side to what may seem like negative situations through comedy, the film failed to engage me in the most important way. It's not that it's a bad film, I'm just not sure it deserves the praise that so many others have shown it, and it's certainly not deserving of its eight Oscar nominations.
Adapted by writer/director David O. Russell from a novel by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook is an eccentric love story. Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) has been in a psychiatric institution for eight months after attacking his wife's lover and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He moves back in with his parents Dolores and Pat Sr (Jacki Weaver and Robert DeNiro) who continue to express concern about his mental stability. Pat has lost his job as a teacher and his wife, and his bipolar behaviour continues to alienate people, especially with his unfiltered speech and violent breakdowns. When he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), Pat enlists her help to get a letter to his estranged wife in the hopes of winning her back. But Tiffany has her own mental health problems since becoming a young widow. The pair strike up an odd and unpredictable friendship that could help them both manage their mental illnesses.
It's impossible to view this film in Australia without carrying some high expectations given the award season buzz, including Academy Award nominations in all four acting categories for the first time in 31 years. As decent as the performances were, most were not worthy of the Oscar nominations. DeNiro and Weaver were both solid but not outstanding, while Cooper was funny and charismatic but not much beyond that. Lawrence, on the other hand, was the stand-out performer blending comedy and drama almost perfectly. There is also a decent supporting cast including Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker and John Ortiz.
A strong theme in Silver Linings Playbook is reading signs. I quite liked the intricacy of that. There is also a very funny dance scene that brought tears to my eyes. Unfortunately, even those two things weren't enough to sustain my interest for two hours. The film was good, but not great.