‘Silver Linings Playbook’ Review

Published 1 year ago by , Updated September 11th, 2014 at 2:38 am,

The Silver Linings Playbook Review starring Bradley Cooper Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro Silver Linings Playbook Review

With The Fighter, director David O. Russell seemed to carve out a niche for off-beat dramedy centered around eccentric blue-collar characters - and his new film, Silver Linings Playbook is clear evidence that he’s getting more comfortable in said niche. The story is set in and around the area of Philadelphia, PA and follows Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) an ex-teacher who is coming home from an institution after suffering a nervous breakdown. Pat is sprung (prematurely) by his ever-patient mom (Jacki Weaver) but his dad, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), isn’t so certain the homecoming is justified – on account of Pat Jr.’s constant petulance and the continued delusion that his estranged wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), is still in love with him.

But when Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl who has recently suffered a similar psychological break, it starts up a most unusual courtship between two damaged people – which might just be the silver lining that each of them (and their loved ones) have been hoping for.

[DISCLAIMER: This review was written by a native Philadelphian and life-long Eagles fan. You've been warned.]

Silver Linings Playbook is another hit for David O. Russell and further proof that he is settling into a style of filmmaking that serves him (and his audience) well. Rusell both directed and wrote the script (adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick), and he manages to do for romantic comedy what he did for sports drama in The Fighter - namely, by upending conventions via smart, well-executed, scenes that are heavy on sharp dialogue, uttered from the mouths of amusing oddball characters. And, while the film sometimes feels as lost as its two protagonists, the moment-to-moment joy of each scene never really subsides or sags, and the uncertainty of the destination just as often works as an advantage, rather than a hindrance.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in The Silver Linings Playbook Silver Linings Playbook Review

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

The film succeeds in large part because of its cast, who are all able to take Russell’s unique tonal frequency and bring it to life in a convincing and entertaining way. Bradley Cooper is all manic charm as Pat Jr., and manages to strike the difficult balance of a character who is delusional without being tragic or sad; awkward and aloof without being too off-putting or annoying. What we get is a protagonist worth rooting for, despite his obvious shortcomings, and the role requires Cooper to (thankfully) shed a lot of his usual smarmy mannerisms – which he does effectively.

Cooper’s performance might be noteworthy, but Jennifer Lawrence’s is spectacular. The young actress (who already has an Oscar nomination under her belt for Winter’s Bone, and breakout success thanks to The Hunger Games) continues to prove she’s one of the strongest thespians of her generation. In Tiffany, she creates a deeply-layered and interesting character that is attractive yet also sympathetically vulnerable and frighteningly volatile. After suffering a breakdown due to her cop husband’s untimely death, Tiffany (like Pat) is looking for a road back to some semblance of sanity – and, like Pat, has little idea how to actually go about it. Where Pat is a repeating chord of self-delusion, Tiffany oscillates between levels of sane and insane behavior rapidly and unpredictably; Lawrence controls these shifts with such skill and subtlety that it’s unnervingly convincing in the best possible way.

Robert De Niro in The Silver Linings Playbook Silver Linings Playbook Review

Robert De Niro in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

Robert De Niro turns in what might be his best performance in years as Pat Sr., a life-long Philadelphia Eagles fan whose sports superstitions boarder on OCD – and whose “friendly wagers” with bookie friend Randy (Paul Herman) boarder on compulsive gambling. Like his co-stars, De Niro is able to walk a fine tightrope of characterization, so that Pat Sr. seems tough while still loving, compulsive but not reckless, etc. It’s a mix of De Niro’s tough-guy Italian persona from his mob films (Casino) set to the comedic sensibilities of his family films (Meet the Fockers) and it all works wonderfully. If ever there was a true portrait of an old Eagles fan, this is it.

The rest of the cast is made up of talented actors playing characters that rank as slightly less strange than Pat and/or Tiffany. Oscar-nominee Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) is the calm center of the Solitano family, but her acceptance (enablement?) of all the craziness around her is a form of craziness in and of itself. Chris Tucker returns to the screen for the first time in five years and is a scene-stealer as Danny, Pat’s friend from the institution who routinely escapes for a friendly visit. Julia Stiles cameos as Veronica, Tiffany’s older sister who lives like she’s QVC royalty – much to the chagrin of her husband Ronnie (Public Enemies‘ John Ortiz), Pat’s p-whipped old friend who is quietly sitting on a volcano of repressed emotion. Even minor characters like Pat’s therapist Dr. Patel (Anupam Kher), his successful brother Jake (Boardwalk Empire‘s Shea Whigham) and probation officer Keogh (Dash Mihok) are given moments to show off their own colorful personalities while earning a few laughs.

Bradley Cooper Chris Tucker and Jackie Weaver in The Silver Linings Playbook Silver Linings Playbook Review

Bradley Cooper, Chris Tucker and Jacki Weaver in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

On a more subtle level, Silver Linings Playbook gets inside the skin of blue-collar life in the same way The Fighter did. Trade the New England setting of the latter film for the Philadelphia setting of this one, and you still get a sense of Russell’s fascination with the world of working-class America and the people who inhabit it. It’s not quite satire, not quite endorsement, but rather lies somewhere in between; a good-humored morbid curiosity that entertains, but just as often mortifies. It is a balance that Russell seems to have mastered, and so far, it has resulted in rewarding film experiences.

The movie begins to drag in the latter second act – and after taking such a leisurely pace to get where it’s going, the climax feels a bit rushed and very cliched. Still, with these sort of Russell films it is more about the pleasure of the journey than the satisfaction fo the destination, and Silver Linings Playbook paves a highly entertaining road to recovery for its characters, which you will be glad you helped sponsor.

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Silver Linings Playbook is now expanding to additional theaters.It is Rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5
(Must-See)

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  1. Is it weird that hes so much older?

    • It is. In the book she’s supposed to be around Pat’s age, but apparently, David O. Russell really wanted to work with Lawrence so he changed the age of the character.

      Still weird though.

      • Actually she was supposed to be a little older than Pat

  2. I really wish this was playing at my local theater. I liked the trailer and the clips I’ve seen piqued my interest.

    And I’m a New York Football Giants fan.

    • Supposedly, it’ll be everywhere by Christmas, which sucks because originally it was supposed to have a wide release today before the studio decided to give it a platform release at the last minute so that word of mouth can build. So, have patience I guess.

  3. Just got back from watching this, loved it as did the audience I saw it with, was a warm feel good movie, Jennifer Lawrence is awesome and it as nice to see De Niro in something decent for a change, he’s looking old tho!

  4. Wow, 4.5 stars! I need to find a girl and take her to watch this with me.

  5. Is it weird to go with a guy friend to this?

    • I did not knowing it was going to be as romantic, ideally take a lady, if not just think ‘I’m going to see a David O’Russell movie’ director of man films like ‘The Fighter’ and ‘The Three Kings’ and you should be fine

  6. I became tired of Bradley Cooper after season 2 of Alias. Why do mediocre actors like he, and the incredibly horrible Seth Rogan keep being cast in things? Why does hollywood keep flinging feces at the viewers?

    • Because there are millions of people that pay for it.

    • Seth Rogen rocks man. He’s a really funny guy and has provided some of the best comedic moments in modern recent cinema.

    • He actually seemed to put a lot of thought into this character, as well as where he fits as far as the story line goes. I thought he did a pretty good job playing it. I enjoyed what the movie was about, as well. I think you can really see how much thought an actor/actress outs into a part by the way they explain it, the way they explain other characters besides their own. He actually did pretty well.

      • +1

  7. I looooved this movie! Everyone did a spectacular job with the acting, & although I never paid a lot of attention to Bradley Cooper I have a huge crush on him after seeing this movie! Jennifer Lawrence gives the down-to-earth gritty performance and she’s beautiful too. I am a girl who loves football so I enjoyed the football aspect of it. And the soundtrack, especially the songs by Led Zeppelin, Alabama Shakes and Stevie Wonder are all outstanding picks for music.

  8. Ps I don’t think it’s weird that he’s older. It’s hot because he’s hot, she’s hot and she’s much more mature than her actual age.

  9. I didn’t really know what to expect going in. I knew who the actors were but as far as the story went, I had no idea other than it was supposed to be a drama/romance/comedy… dramancedy?

    It was a bit strange to me… seemed like everyone was dysfunctional and it amazed me that it ended up the way it did because until the very end… Coopers’ character still acted crazy so you never know if he got it under control and if he did, when.

    The acting was excellent and while I wonder how Cooper went from paper bag in Alias to headliner… he does have the star persona to warrant it (I actually liked him in The A-Team… I think he should do more action vehicles).

    This is not a typical rom/com or a dramady… so fans of either genre may come away half-fulfilled.

  10. I would love to see this movie just one problem…..its not playing anywhere near me, sort of sucks every time the play the trailer…just rubbing it in!

    • I am ten and I am super mature and me and my mom want to go see this. We can’t decide why it is rated r. With my maturity I act like a 14 year old. I’ve seen identity thief witch was sexual, violent, and very verbal. Please reply. I want to see it but I need an answer

  11. I am so angry that this isn’t playing at any theater in my entire county. I would have to drive over an hour to go see it. Not going to happen. That’s 2 hours driving at least, plus the time to see the movie. I couldn’t be more disappointed in the studio heads who did this. Why wouldn’t you do a wide release? I loved the novel. Loved, loved, loved it. But now because I don’t live in a major city that is lucky enough to have Silver Linings Playbook released, I either have to drive inordinately far and waste a huge chunk of my day to watch a film, or I have to wait for it to come out in my area if it ever does, I haven’t even seen any information that might give me hope it’s soon to be released. Or I have to wait for the DVD. Way to punish potential viewers for living outside the designated locales. I’m really upset about this. I’ve been waiting since November, and I have been able to look up until the 19th of December for some of my local theaters and the ones who go that far in advance don’t have it anywhere on their schedules. So what month will it be released everywhere? Stupid move. I feel penalized. And there’s no way I’m going that far to see a movie. It’s just a movie.

  12. wow where do i begin! I am usually far from a rom com fan and the idea of watching romance in a cinema setting really unhinges me! However…. this sold itself to me and has made me want to see more. The Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence relationship is an interesting one disturbed by their own personal troubles – and it just works!

  13. yeah this movie sucks. It only consists of overracting and yelling. The fact that they chose a girl who’s not mature enough to play a role like that is just saddening. Sure she’s a good actress, but only for teen stuff. I can’t take her seriously. It only did well due to the fact that she’s an it girl. She’ll go away in a few months and no one will care.

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