In an age when Hollywood seems content to churn out romantic comedies that fit neatly into one of two boxes – raunchy or mushy – delightfully offbeat gem Silver Linings Playbook breathes fresh life into the romcom genre.
That’s quite a feat given the film’s unlikely lovers: a divorced man suffering from bipolar disorder and a seriously depressed widow, played by Hangover star Bradley Cooper and The Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence.
Newly discharged from a mental hospital at the start of the story, Cooper’s Pat returns home to Philadelphia determined to win back his ex-wife. He has what you could call a romcom view of life and the happy ending he has in mind is one that involves his ex. So when Lawrence’s grieving Tiffany enters his life, he spurns her advances and it’s with great reluctance that he agrees to be her dance partner in an upcoming competition. Slowly, surprisingly, the damaged duo begin to heal each other.
We all know how things will turn out, but writer-director David O Russell, adapting Matthew Quick’s 2008 novel, steers the story so skilfully that by the time the dance contest comes around it’s impossible not to cheer. And that’s not all you’ll want to applaud in this sweet and kooky and extremely funny film. Russell’s script is sharp and smart, and his cast is perfect.
As Pat’s neurotic bookmaker dad, Robert De Niro is hilarious; the best he’s been in years. And he’s well partnered by Jacki Weaver as Pat’s fussy, enabler mom. But the movie’s truly magical chemistry comes from the charismatic Cooper and the even more spellbinding Lawrence, whose electrifying performance as manic, damaged Tiffany deservedly won her an Oscar. Silver linings, indeed.
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