Silver Linings Playbook, the latest effort from David O. Russell is, deservedly, much like his previous effort The Fighter, likely to attract awards attention; Russell’s direction ensuring that his romantic-comedy errs the right side of heart-felt without wandering into cliché.
Of course, this ability to affect its audience without straying into mawkishness is largely aided by its excellent cast, with both Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper turning in fine performances.
Pat (Cooper), suffering from bipolar disorder, is released from a mental institution – his stay warranted by a violent episode- into the care of his parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro). Despite his release, it is clear that Pat still suffers from bouts of hallucinations: Pat believes that if he becomes physically active and returns to his previous career as a teacher, he will win back the affections of his departed wife (who has a restraining order in place against him).
Meeting the widowed Tiffany (Lawrence), Pat believes that through her he can communicate with his wife: requesting that Tiffany deliver a letter to her, Pat agrees to aid Tiffany’s amateur dance aspirations. Of course, this being a romantic-comedy, the ending is inevitable, but it isn’t the ending of Silver Linings Playbook that makes it so enjoyable, but the opportunity to watch the interaction between Tiffany and Pat.
Lawrence is, as ever, wonderful: her Tiffany’s dry witticisms and raw emotion aid her empathy, whilst Cooper, previously an actor that I failed to rate, displays his ability to depict real vulnerability. Together the pair areeminently watchable, and crucially, despite the inevitability of the ending, the indication (as dictated by the genre) that they might not end up together becomes a concern: entirely possible through the central coupling’s performance. Ultimately Lawrence and Cooper make us care, a feature utterly fundamental to a romantic-comedy’s success. As a film of its genre Silver Linings Playbook performs admirably, proving itself to be both moving and engaging without resulting in over-wrought emotion.