Can a movie really have it all? Silver
Linings Playbook proves you can and may just be the best movie of the year.
Though some were surprised it beat out Argo
for the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, it's not
hard to see why people are flipping for this romantic comedy.
Romantic comedies tend to get a bad rap because so many of the ones
that get released are terrible. But when they're done right (When Harry Met Sally, Bridget Jones's Diary, Waitress), they're among the best movies
around. Silver Linings Playbook does
it right, giving us the story of two fascinating characters who have genuine
Bradley Cooper plays Pat, a bipolar teacher who's finally being
released from a mental health facility after a violent breakdown. He goes to
live with his parents (De Niro and Weaver) who are ill equipped to deal with
his illness. The day-to-day he experiences on the outside help the audience
understand just how deep Pat's illness and positivity run. The great characters
that populate this Philadelphia neighborhood make it the most fully realized
setting of any movie this year.
Everything feels completely authentic in this movie, even the
relationship at its core. During an awkward dinner, Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer
Lawrence), the young widow of one of his old buddies. They're instantly
attracted to each other not by physical appearance but by their shared
intolerance for formality and B.S. It's so refreshing to see a relationship
develop this way as opposed to the pure sexual ferocity that so dominates most
But Pat remains fiercely (maybe even unreasonably) devoted to his
estranged wife. So that means
everything develops at a leisurely pace, which allows more time for us to be
completely immersed and get to know this family, neighborhood and culture. Just
like David O. Russell's last movie The
Fighter, you feel you know nearly every character intimately.
Silver Linings Playbook also
features two great performances, one from a veteran actor who hasn't made
anything substantial in the last decade and one from an actor who only shows up
The former is Robert De Niro as Pat's dad, an obsessed Philadelphia
Eagles fan who, like most men his age, has trouble showing emotion. In a lesser
film, his arc would come off as trite and overdone. But thanks to De Niro's
devotion to the role and Russell's direction, he's turning in another highlight
in a career full of them.
The latter is Chris Tucker, who has rarely acted outside the Rush Hour franchise and gave what was
likely the most annoying performance of all time in The Fifth Element. But here, in his few scenes as a fellow patient
and friend of Pat, he's something of a revelation. Who knew he had such grace
and depth hiding behind all those loud antics?
Silver Linings Playbook takes
the audience through the emotional wringer but sends them out of the theater on
a high note. It will remove every last ounce of cynicism from your bones and
leave you, like Pat, always looking for that silver lining.