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.
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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
Silver Linings Playbook doesn't play by the current romantic comedy bookNo scatology, nudity, f-bombing, or feminist and gay bashing. It's simply a smart playbook about the mental institution's recently-released Pat Solitano (Cooper, shedding his Hangover boy-man shtick), who may be saner than his dad, an OCD gambler (Robert De Niro), and Bradley's new friend, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence).
But that comparison is all relative because director David O. Russell (remember his funky family in Flirting with Disaster?) allows each character in this dramedy to become whole and interesting without becoming marginalized.
After some serious outbursts of anger, Pat starts training for a dance competition with Tiffany in order to make contact with and eventually impress his estranged wife, Nikki (Brea Bee).
The eventualities of the story are not half as stimulating as the plot along the way, some of the best scenes centered around the family squabbling about the Philadelphia Eagles or Pat's relationship with that "slut," Tiffany. When Pat confronts his parents at 4 AM about the deficiency of Hemingway's ending to A Farewell to Arms and when Russell places under another scene Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash singing Girl from the North Country, you know you're in a film that follows no particular playbook.
The dynamics as fostered by these superior actors are some of the best ensemble work this year. In fact, this is so far the best of the romantic comedies in recent memory. Pat and Tiffany may be bi-polar, but they can dance the stars into your eyes.
Jennifer Lawrence plays so different a character from those in Winter's Bone and Hunger Games that it may take you a scene or two to recognize her. But when she dances, you'll confirm she's one of the best young actresses in Hollywood, and this film one of the best of the year.
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