After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
Against medical advice and without the knowledge of her husband Pat Solatano Sr., caring Dolores Solatano discharges her adult son, Pat Solatano Jr., from a Maryland mental health institution after his minimum eight month court ordered stint. The condition of the release includes Pat Jr. moving back in with his parents in their Philadelphia home. Although Pat Jr.'s institutionalization was due to him beating up the lover of his wife Nikki, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Nikki has since left him and has received a restraining order against him. Although he is on medication (which he doesn't take because of the way it makes him feel) and has mandatory therapy sessions, Pat Jr. feels like he can manage on the outside solely by healthy living and looking for the "silver linings" in his life. His goals are to get his old job back as a substitute teacher, but more importantly reunite with Nikki. He finds there are certain instances where he doesn't cope well, however no less so ... Written by
There are two Cadillacs at the house, an older black one and a newer silver one. When Pat's dad is driving him to the football game, an exterior shot shows them in the newer silver one. When they are shown talking inside the car they are in the older black one. See more »
It's difficult to write a review for David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook without constantly repeating three words: genuine, heartfelt and touching. I've long been a fan of Russell's work, through Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees and The Fighter but I always felt there was that extra something lacking in those three that prevented me from really loving them. It looks like he found what that something was, and to achieve it he had to make his most personal film yet. Playbook, adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick, tells the story of Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) who has just been released from a mental health facility after receiving court ordered treatment due to a violent incident. The incident also resulted in a restraining order from his wife Nikki, whom Pat is determined to mend fences with while being released into the care of his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver).
A few years ago, Russell was the kind of director known more for his on- set antics than he was for the films themselves. After his short temper and abrasive manner got the better of him on the set of Three Kings and more recently an on-set shouting match from I Heart Huckabees between him and Lily Tomlin leaked online and quickly made waves, he was beginning to come in danger of being a director whose films would be buried under the stigma of his own personality. His solution? Take a step back, learn to be more patient and controlled, and make a return six years later with The Fighter, a picture that earned him a heap of critical acclaim, eventually leading to an Oscar nomination for Best Director (not to mention two of his stars taking home trophies that night). With The Fighter we saw a different kind of filmmaker in Russell, someone more in tune with the humanity of his characters and their dynamics, more concerned with creating genuine emotion than anything else.
In Silver Linings Playbook, he takes that naturalistic approach and focus on familial themes another step further, making this as much about the many unique bonds Pat shares with the other characters as it is about him coming to terms with his own self. For what on paper could have appeared to be a rather conventional romantic comedy of two odd ducklings overcoming adversity and falling in love, Playbook has so much more on its mind and Russell handles it with a script that balances together all of his many themes and characters into an impeccably paced whole. There are several dynamics running through this story and yet none of them feel cheaply dismissed, lazily resolved or underdeveloped.
Once Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow with plenty of her own emotional baggage, things begin to focus primarily on their growing relationship but rather than making this the "Pat and Tiffany" show from that point on, Russell makes sure to never lose sight of everything else that he had slowly been building within that framework. The film does follow a traditional overall arc concerning the relationship between the two of them, but nothing here feels typical in any way and that's thanks to how Russell writes everything surrounding Pat, along with the superbly natural performances from all of the cast, primarily Cooper and Lawrence.
I've made no secret of my distaste for Jennifer Lawrence as she's emerged over the past few years, finding her to be a very self-aware actress who is never able to shed herself enough to truly become a character. With Tiffany, she's given a loud, abrasive, promiscuous role that requires her to turn you away just as much as she pulls you in -- basically the worst kind of character for an actor who has trouble disappearing into a role. Much, much to my pleasant surprise, there wasn't an ounce of artificiality in her performance here. Not a single second was I seeing anyone other than Tiffany, this damaged girl who hides her pain by defending herself before anyone gets the chance to hurt her. She is completely in control of her skills as an actress here, and I think it's a level of performance that promises some great things from her moving forward.
All of that being said, Silver Linings Playbook absolutely belongs to Bradley Cooper every single step of the way. While everyone in the cast does great work, Cooper is on another level, commanding the entire picture with an exhilarating energy that commands from the very beginning. Utterly convincing in every layer of this portrayal (and there's many), he is at once frustrating, charming, naive, acerbic, honest and damn funny. This may be a romantic comedy in its narrative arc, but Russell never shies away from the darker facets of his central character and Cooper returns in kind, never afraid to make Pat momentarily unlikable for the natural development of one of the most genuine depictions of this type of mental illness I've seen in a film. Lawrence caught me off guard with her work, but Cooper is a flat-out revelation.
Silver Linings Playbook is a deceptive film in a lot of ways, taking a much more honest and personal route than you might expect and as a result it gets to the heart of its characters with an emotional resonance few of its type are capable of. Like he did with The Fighter, Russell takes on a familiar genre with a much more honest and natural approach than we're used to seeing on display within it and it works to an even greater level here. As I said before, that one had that extra something missing that would have allowed me to properly love it, but there's nothing missing from this one. Immaculately paced, emotionally involving, superbly written and performed, Silver Linings Playbook is one of the best films of the year and one that I immediately held dear to my heart.
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