Is Silver Linings Playbook simply the “token Academy rom-com nominee that won’t win Best Picture”? Well it didn’t win Best Picture, but I highly doubt it was simply a token nominee either.
The film begins with Pat (Bradley Cooper) being just released from a mental hospital, after committing assault to his cheating wife’s lover. Pat returns to his parents’ home, determined to rebuild his life and get his wife back. He soon meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a widower with complicated problems of her own. Together, they work on helping Pat reconnect with his wife, but it results in something entirely unexpected.
As a whole, Silver Linings Playbook is incredibly well-written. It consists of a few noteworthy lines from Lawrence’s character (“I’m just the crazy slut, with a dead husband! Fuck you!”) but it’s the confrontational exchanges between Pat and Tiffany that adequately display the emotional capacity the film bears. The theme of kinship the film highlights – the strained father-son relationship, the initial tension between the “champ” brother and the black sheep Pat – show a profound understanding of family ties that anyone could relate to. It can be difficult for any film, or any work of art, to pinpoint the subdued difficulties in an everyday home, but Silver Linings Playbook does this brilliantly so.
In addition, Silver Linings Playbook drives on the stellar acting performances by the phenomenal cast. Robert De Niro delivers as Pat’s battered father who holds on to superstitious beliefs whenever Philadelphia Eagles football team is playing a match. A key moment in the film is during De Niro’s touching speech to Pat about his problems as a father, and how much he wants his son to get better. It is a pivotal scene, and yet, unexpected too. Thanks to De Niro’s tender approach, you won’t know it till it hits you.
Cooper and Lawrence are a sight to behold as a dynamic duo too. Their chemistry is explosive and hard to look away. Cooper grips the audience’s attention with his intense vulnerability and quirky nuances (he throws a Hemingway book out the window at one point), but undoubtedly, it is Lawrence who steals the limelight. Her character is the more forward of the two, often quipping snide remarks. Lawrence skilfully uses this to her advantage, confidently balancing the act between being rude and endearing. Her performance alone has been earned her the Best Actress at the recent Oscars (apart from Emmys, SAGs etc. aside). At 22 years young, Lawrence makes my 21-year-old heart feel entirely inadequate, but it goes to show Young Hollywood can still get it right.
With its heartfelt moments and superb ensemble cast, Silver Linings Playbook is astonishingly sincere, laugh-out funny and all-round fantastic – it’s almost criminal.