“I do all this shit for other people and then I wake up and I’m empty. I have nothing!”
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro
Finally, a romcom without the cringy, soppy, over-the-top parts. I don’t even really want to call it a romcom as people may just disregard it straight away, so scrap your preconceptions now! What we have here is a clever film about two broken people, one has just come out of a mental health facility and the other has been recently widowed. When they meet, their dysfunctional personalities compliment each other and a weird spark ignites between them.
Silver Linings Playbook follows the lives of Pat and Tiffany. When an opportunity to take advantage of each other presents itself – Pat wants to contact his estranged wife and can do so through Tiffany, while Tiffany needs a dance parter for a show – they form an odd but captivating friendship.
Now being a romantic comedy, any old fool can see what is going to happen given these circumstances. However the way in which it happens is what really sets it apart from the rest and has garnered the film 8 different Oscar nominations.
Bradley Cooper has always been on my good-actor-but-needs-a-good-role list. His previous films have been good but not very challenging in terms of character. Playing someone with a bipolar disorder who is struggling to accept this is what has put his talents to the test, and delightfully it has paid off. Yes, he is the Hollywood heart-throb of the film, and I guess all romcoms need a bit of eye-candy to draw in the female audience (of which the majority of this genre is aimed at), but thankfully he has not fallen into the typical cheesy lead which a lot of male leads do. He stands out from the rest through his ability to delve deeper into the character and explore his issues. Cooper has obviously done his research and it is recognisable from start to finish.
Cooper’s lead companion, Jennifer Lawrence, rivals his effortless portrayal. Lawrence is on her way up and nobody is about to stop her. As the troubled Tiffany we are given a very different character than what we are normally presented with in these types of film. Her character development is wonderful to watch as she grows from a hostile, socially awkward girl to a mature and more stable young woman. Throughout the film she provides a fun and light-hearted twist on such a heavy topic and by introducing this element, it opens the film up to a wider audience. She is enchanting to watch and I have no doubt has brought this film a level of groundedness that helps people to relate to these characters, even if they have never had any experience with mental disorders before.
Another brilliant casting decision was Robert De Niro as Pat’s dad. Pat Sr., the Philadelphia Eagles fanatic, is a great character to watch. Encompassing that fatherly emotion, his and Cooper’s character interactions play out just how you’d expect a father and son relationship to be, especially given these circumstance. Trying to be strict and fair, yet letting his love for his son sometimes cloud his judgement, De Niro has hit the nail on the head with his portrayal. Chris Tucker and Jackie Weaver also add a bit more dimension to the film. Tucker as Pat’s hospitalised friend who keeps trying to escape, and Weaver as Pat’s mother. They bring the film a sense of roundedness and humour to the film, giving the other characters a bit more to work off.
A big factor of the film we really have to acknowledge are the writers. This fun, witty, deep, dark and playful dialogue is like no other. Without such a good handle on the events and the ways in with they unfold, the film could have either come off as in over its head or simply inadmissible. Teaming the script with the such great actors needs to be applauded too, these factors go hand in hand and compliment each other brilliantly.
Silver Linings Playbook is one of the best and most ‘real’ romcoms around. When I say that, I mean that I could see this kind of thing happening in real life, and I think that’s why it has been so well received. From the cast to the script to the heavy issues and light-hearted moments, all of these factors work together to produce a film that stands well above the rest in terms of romance and comedy. If you’re sick of the soppy, predictable love films, it would seem Silver Linings Playbook is the one you’ve been looking for.
Star rating: 8/10
Directed by David O. Russell.
Running time 122 minutes.