The film's opening makes us hope for something quirky, something completely different. Our hero, Pat Solatano, has lost his job and his wife and has just been released (courtesy of his mother, played by Jacki Weaver) from a mental health hospital. His father (Robert de Niro) is obsessed with the Philadelphia Eagles, and a dream of opening a restaurant and doesn't even know that his son is coming home.
Enter Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who is clawing her way out of the loss of her husband. For the first half of the film we are drawn into the realities of dealing with mental illness – not only for the sufferers, but also for their families. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence inhabit their characters superbly – we fall in love with both of them, as they try to come to terms with a world that has trouble coming to terms with them.
De Niro gives a compelling performance as the gruff, obsessive father who wants to connect with his son, if only he knew how, and Jacki Weaver is warm and down to earth as the long-suffering wife and mother who never gives up hope. And then – the film changes gear, and while still engaging us, becomes more predictable Quirky meets feel-good. That said, the film is fun, the ending, if predictable, is satisfying, and superb acting papers over the cracks in the plot.