Big Picture Big Sound

Silver Linings Playbook Review

By Lexi Feinberg

Two Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest


"Silver Linings Playbook" has an infectious energy, and not just because one of the main characters is manic. It's both bitingly real and sheer fantasy - which makes sense with David O. Russell at the helm. The guy's not normal and, thankfully, neither is this offbeat romantic comedy.

After spending eight months in a mental hospital and moving back in with his parents, bipolar ex-teacher Pat (Bradley Cooper) is determined to turn things around. He uses the mantra "Excelsior!" for moral support. He jogs around town in a garbage bag to shed more pounds. He is determined to win back his wife, which is clearly not going to happen, but he persists. Off his meds, he is aggressive, prone to temper tantrums at 4 a.m. (the ending of "A Farewell to Arms" hit a nerve) and socially clueless. He's better on them, though still messed up.

Enter young widow Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who has her own issues with depression, promiscuity and self-destructive behaviors. She is instantly smitten with Pat, in part because he lacks the same social graces she does, and also because he's chasing after another woman. (Cute + Unavailable = Score!) They're both damaged but they come to life around each other and while they would not be well suited for functional people, together they make sense, even if they are just friends for much of the movie.

Their scenes together feel real, especially when they're fighting, as they're both exposed nerves. But there's classic movie magic here that includes a dance competition and a whole lot riding on a Philadelphia Eagles game. The film provides plenty of drama and comedy, and it's a delight to watch from start to finish, in large part because of the actors. Cooper shows emotional depth not yet present in his earlier work, and Lawrence is fast becoming one of the best young actresses around. She is only 22, and yet she is so fierce and fascinating on screen that she steals scenes from Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver, who are also magnetic as Pat's parents.

"Silver Linings Playbook" would run in the same social circle as "David and Lisa" and "Benny & Joon," but it feels a bit cooler and edgier. There's a strong message of hope that never gets lost among the episodes and eccentricities. The film is weird and messy and exhilarating, much like life itself.

What did you think?

Movie title Silver Linings Playbook
Release year 2012
MPAA Rating R
Our rating
Summary A pair of unhappy people find happiness together in David O. Russell's offbeat new love story.
View all articles by Lexi Feinberg
More in Movies
Big News
Newsletter Sign-up
Connect with Us