Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published January 29th 2013
Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic comedy for our times, where the requisite obstacle keeping our hero and heroine apart for a large part of the story is mental illness.
Our hero is Pat, a likeable bipolar guy, who for many years was not correctly diagnosed but is now trying to get his life on track. Our heroine is Tiffany, her psychological disorder is less defined but could best be described as more circumstantial. They meet early on in the film, but the rules of rom-com dictate that the path to love and enlightenment must be a rocky one. The rules are we don't mind the rules, a rom-com can be as predictable as can be, as long as we root for the characters and we enjoy being with them. On this score, Silver Linings succeeds admirably.
Writer director David O Russell had made some of the smartest comedies made in Hollywood over the last decade or so - Flirting With Disaster, I Heart Huckabees and Three Kings. His last film, The Fighter, garnered Oscars for Christian Bale and Melissa Leo as Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively. The Oscar laurels for Silver Linings are no less impressive, with the film having snagged the grand slam of acting nominations, for Best Actor, Best Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress. It's the first film in 31 years to do this and only the 14th in the history of the awards.
The acting is one of the film's great strengths, with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in particular giving wonderfully unpredictable and vulnerable performances. As with The Fighter, the two leads are surrounded by a group of larger-than-life family and friends that entertain and ground the story with a real sense of community.
There is plenty of wit and pathos in the script, although I feel the film's first half is much stronger. From thereon in it gets a little broader and feels a bit too eager to please.
For the most part though, this is a smartly written, well acted feel good movie that manages an emotional pay off without straying into sentimentality.