PG Cooper: Silver Linings Playbook Review

Posted: December 5, 2012 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

silver-linings-posterThe promotional material for Silver Linings Playbook did little to excite me. The trailers made the film look like a pretty conventional love story with no surprises. “A quirky boy and girl fall in love? How original,” I thought to myself. A strong cast and director David O. Russell went a long way to increase my optimism, but it wasn’t until the excellent word of mouth that I became truly invested. Thankfully my initial doubts were not fulfilled; Silver Linings Playbook is anything but conventional.

Patrick (Bradley Cooper) is a bipolar young man who has spent the last eight months in a mental institute for a violent incident. In spite of protest from the doctors, Pat’s mother (Jacki Weaver) legally signs Pat out of the hospital to return home. Pat’s father (Robert De Niro) is happy to see his son, but is also worried if the time is right. Early on, Patrick meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who has her own batch of mental issues. Despite having some nasty fights, the two find kindred spirits in each other and decide to help each other out in various ways.

Given the nature of the story, it would not be hard to imagine the film turning into an indie nightmare, but Silver Linings Playbook never takes that route. Instead, a strong sense of realism permeates throughout. This is in large part thanks to a great script (based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick) which avoids turning the characters into quirky individuals, but instead creates very real and believable people. The dialogue is also very good in both dramatic and comedic situations.

The acting here is top notch from everyone. Bradley Cooper gives his best performance yet as Patrick. He captures all the attributes of a bipolar person without ever going too far. Cooper also deserves credit for making Patrick consistently likable even during rough situations. With his work here, Cooper has solidified himself as one of Hollywood’s most promising talents. Speaking of young talent, Jennifer Lawrence is incredible here. She has all the same challenges as Cooper and triumphs just as thoroughly, giving a very powerful and moving performance. Also like Bradley Cooper, I would say this is the best performance Lawrence has given.

Going in, the actor I was most curious to watch was Robert De Niro. De Niro is one of cinema’s greatest actors and my personal favourite, but he hasn’t given a truly great performance in a truly great film in a very long time. Or at least this was true until Silver Linings Playbook. De Niro takes a character who might have come off as cliche and instead makes him a very real character. His work here is extremely powerful, moving, and his best acting since 1995’s Heat. Great work is also done by some lesser known actors like John Ortiz and Anupam Kher. Surprisingly enough, Chris Tucker of all people gives a very good performance. Overall, this is a very well acted film.

The final element that contributes to the film’s realistic feel is the style of director David O. Russell. Russell shoots the film stylistically very similar to how he shot The Fighter. He uses a very “fly on the wall” type approach. The action rarely feels staged and there’s almost a documentary-esque way Russell presents everything. I also give Russell a tremendous amount of credit for being able to switch between comedy and drama so well. I’ve seen dramedies where the shifts can feel jarring and unnatural. Here, Russell is able to weave between both very efficiently, sometimes in the same scene.

One thing I did have correct about the film going is is that the film is very sentimental. While this can be a determent in some films, here it works, mostly because the sentimentality feels earned. The characters all have their problems and need to endure some tough situations. As a result, when things turn around and go right for the characters, it feels like they deserve it. At its core, Silver Linings Playbook is about how with enough hard work one can find positive results. I love dark and depressing films, but I also love films with an optimistic touch. The trick is Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t preach.

Silver Linings Playbook is exactly how one makes a great crowd-pleaser. It’s an accessible film full of humour and likable characters, but Russell does not condescend to the audience by simplifying the film. Instead, Silver Linings Playbook is a smart film which is extremely moving and also quite funny. The acting is great and overall the film is one of the most perfect I’ve seen all year. A must see for all.

Rating: A+

Comments
  1. Hunter says:

    I loved this film, I’m glad you liked it as well:)
    I totally agree with you about the acting here. It’s hard to play characters with mental issues without slipping into over-acting or playing stereotypes, and I think Cooper and Lawrence did a terrific job, helped along by the great story. I also really like De Niro because they way he acted really brought out the relationship between him and Pat and part of the reason why Pat is the way he is. I also loved the optimism in this film. It’s hard to do optimism a lot of times because it just feels cliche and not real. I think this film did this very well. They made it so you wanted the normal rom com thing to happen, instead of making you roll your eyes at it.
    Nice review! Excited to see this one get some oscar nominations (hopefully)!

  2. ianthecool says:

    Good review. I’m glad to here you applaud the cast, as they are what intrigues me most about this movie.

  3. CMrok93 says:

    So happy that this movie used Philly the best way possible, shame is that it highlights it in a year where they are just doing terrible Oh well. Aside from that, the movie is great and one of my favorites of the year. Good review PG.

  4. moviebuff801 says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. This is hands down one of the Best of the Year.

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