In Silver Linings Playbook, Pat gets released from a stint in a mental hospital and goes to live with his parents Pat Sr. and Dolores. He has delusions of reuniting with his estranged wife who has a restraining order against him. He has trouble adjusting to his new lifestyle. Sparks fly when he meets Tiffany, the young widowed sister-in-law of Pat's best friend. Initially, Pat and Tiffany despise each other. Tiffany goads Pat into entering a dance contest with her, and along the way, Pat realizes that Tiffany has started to matter to him.
Director David O. Russell has fashioned a nice comedy-drama driven by character. As Pat, Bradley Cooper reveals depth and talent that I didn't realize that he had. Jennifer Lawrence, an actress of incredible range and beauty, is very winning as the young Tiffany and invests her with a complexity that is important to the chemistry between herself and Cooper. Robert De Niro plays Pat Sr., Pat's obsessive-compulsive father with gambling issues. He does a credible job in the role. Jacki Weaver is a quiet tower of strength as Pat's mother Dolores. I liked her performance a great deal. Cooper, Lawrence, De Niro, and Weaver were all Oscar-nominated for their work, and they are all excellent. However, Cooper is the only actor that I think was essential to the film. His performance is brilliant; the other roles could have easily been filled by other good actors.
The Oscar-nominated screenplay is very good, and Russell's handling of the material elevates it substantially. The last half hour of the film is as good as any rom-com that I've seen in years. I was really rooting for Pat and Tiffany to connect on both the dance floor and romantically. Russell seems to be a dream for actors. Three years ago, he directed Christian Bale and Melissa Leo to Supporting Oscar wins in The Fighter, plus Amy Adams scored a supporting actress nomination. This year, Lawrence and De Niro are favorites to win their Oscar categories. Russell himself was nominated for Best Director for The Fighter, and he was honored with a nomination this year for Silver Linings Playbook.
Silver Linings Playbook is really an unexpected gem. I wish more movies were this thoughtful, intelligent, and respectful of the audience. It makes storytelling look easy. It doesn't gloss over the mental issues that Pat, Tiffany, and Pat, Sr. face nor does it poke fun at those issues. It presents them matter-of-factly, and if humor can be derived from that, then so be it. I'm impressed. Grade: A
I watched Silver Linings Playbook on February 3, 2013 at Pullman Plaza Marquee Cinemas with my aunt.