When David O. Russell directs anything, you really don’t have any idea what you’re going to get. Better yet, you don’t know exactly how he’s going to tell the story. What I mean by that is, he takes a movie about a boxer and turns it into a family drama complete with drug addiction, the aunts with mustaches you don’t tell your friends about and the controlling girlfriend. This is not what you expect from a movie about a boxer but again, what else could it be about, right? This is how Silver Linings Playbook plays out. It’s a romantic comedy at heart, but with lots of strange elements thrown in to make it far from your standard rom-com fare.
So, we begin with Pat Solatano, played by the truly incredible Bradley Cooper, serving some time in a psych ward for beating a man senseless for sleeping with his wife. Pat clearly has some other issues going on. One being that he has a history of being mentally unstable and finds it hard to deal with day to day issues normally, like interacting with people. Not some people but all people, including his parents, his friends and really anyone else he comes into contact with. One last cherry on top would be his inability to filter anything he says, which coincidently leads to some truly funny moments.
Well, Pat has some issues and so does his co-star, Tiffany, played by the beautiful and stunning Jennifer Lawrence. Her husband died and her grief leads to problems that have manifested themselves through sexual promiscuity and her outright forward behavior toward, well, just about every living human being. She is an emotionally wrought person who seems to have expended whatever is left of her will and therefore is generally disinterested in doing anything that could or would create a connection with anyone. She meets her foil in Pat and Pat likewise meets his in her as well. What blossoms here is one of the most interesting and intriguing relationships I’ve seen on film in a while. They both have their goals, it seems. Pat is hell bent on getting his estranged wife back, who has a restraining order against Pat due to his emotional instability and violent outbursts and Tiffany seems to be completely focused on getting Pats attention and she refuses to fail. All this sets up some unique and great drama and some truly touching moments between our two main characters.
David O. Russell seems to be an Actor’s Director, and that really shines through in this film, as he has once again assembled a stellar cast of supporting actors. Robert De Niro playing Pat’s father who coincidentally has issues similar to Pats just seems to manage them better. Jacki Weaver playing Pat’s mother, Chris Tucker turning in his best performance since Friday, playing Pat’s hilarious psych ward friend Danny, who is always trying to escape the confines of the ward. John Ortiz playing one of Pat’s old friends Ronnie, and if you’ve seen John Ortiz in any of his previous roles he is gut bustingly funny in a completely awkward way and Julia Stiles playing Ronnie’s, to put it lightly, tough to deal with wife which leads to more, seriously funny moments. The list really does go on and on but I will stop there to save some space here, as we could be here all day.
Silver Linings Playbook is far from heavy handed and isn’t out to deliver some commentary on the struggles of life. It’s out to tell you this odd story about two people who haven’t found their place in the world yet. As much as this is a focused story about these two lost souls, it’s also about Pat trying to build friendships and family all over again. Relationships are hard for both characters and that makes watching them try to forge ahead as friends/partners all the more intriguing to watch. Silver Linings Playbook is filled from top to bottom with those little moments that keep you interested all the way through. Telling us, ‘hey, better pay attention or you may miss something.’ While that something may or may not be integral to the story or take you deeper into the plot, it is a moment and a David O. moment is one to not be missed, no matter how trivial.
Silver Linings Playbook is, unsurprisingly, a great movie from a great director with great performances from a great cast. It’s as simple as that. This is a film that hopefully will go down as one of the great romantic comedies. Not so much for its ‘incredible filmmaking’ but for the many unique qualities the characters bring to the film. I find a quality film from one of this generation’s best auteurs is enough to make a person run through the streets breaking wind with excitement. Well it comes through in spades and doesn’t falter once. Silver Linings Playbook is a must see, so get out there and see it.
I give it a 4 out 5
By Brandon Bray