Kelly Mageras Writing The Review Harry Kloman David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook introduces a refreshing and unsuspecting romantic comedy couple, while putting a face to the real affects of mental illness. The film’s cast puts on a far more believable performance than your typical date‐ night movie. It effectively entertains the audience with lighthearted romanticism and humor, while still making realistic portrayals of serious mental disorders. Pat (Bradley Cooper) has just received an early release from the psyche ward after eight months. From the minute Pat exits the ward, he is determined to win back his wife, Nikki, who currently holds a restraining order against him. Pat, who has bipolar disorder, was sent to the psyche ward after violently reacting to his wife cheating on him in his home. We learn quickly that Pat’s disorder still plagues him after his rehab. Although humorous to watch at times, Russell also gives the audience insight into the sad realities of a family dealing with a member’s mental illness. Pat’s various episodes amplify from harmless criticisms of Ernest Hemingway to scary and hard‐to‐watch freak‐outs on his parents, that wake the entire neighborhood. Some of these sudden and extreme outbursts will leave you shaking your head with sympathy for this suffering family. Robert De Niro takes on a role dissimilar from usual as Pat’s father, Pat Senior. Yes, De Niro has of course been in comedies before. But this role takes a more discrete
route to hilarity than his obviously humorous intimidating Dad character in Meet the Parents. Here, his character isn’t funny resulting simply from his lines. You will find humor in his actions, such as his intense commitment to superstition rituals. You’ll even laugh at his relentless addiction to gambling, where he makes bets on large sums of money, which are solely dependent on his son’s presence during a game. Although this movie is partially considered a comedy, this may be the most serious role Bradley Cooper has ever successfully taken on. He conquers a difficult task of making his character’s serious condition funny when it should be funny, and sad when it should be sad. Often his character creates awkward situations with his directness. Although awkwardness in a movie is often difficult to watch, here its rather enjoyable. You’ll find yourself happily observing the strange interactions rather than cringing with discomfort. The movie’s romantic comedy genre comes into play when Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Tiffany, whose husband recently passed away, is also in the process of coming back from a manic episode, like Pat. Tiffany’s consisted of sleeping with eleven of her work colleagues, which eventually got her fired. The hilarious dynamic of Pat and Tiffany’s dialogue makes the entire movie worth watching. Pat, with his blunt directness, compliments Tiffany’s sassiness to create delightfully unusual banter. Jennifer Lawrence put on the most shockingly entertaining performance. Although Tiffany is unmistakably semi‐crazy herself, she brings Pat back to a reality that he
can stand to live in. She does so with her brutal honesty and ability to call Pat out on his unrealistic thoughts. Jennifer Lawrence plays this role with perfect demeanor. Her perfected feisty deliveries will make you question why she hasn’t been in more serious roles such as this one. And her pleasantly scratchy voice resonating from a genuinely sad place makes her character feel real. Jennifer’s unyielding eye contact with Bradley Cooper as she converses with him enables the audience to hang on every line. The most remarkable character of all is Chris Tucker’s smaller role of Pat’s psych ward friend, Danny. Danny makes multiple attempts to escape the psyche ward. Each time his reasoning for being released makes little sense. But no one seems to question Danny because he references abstract terms at such a speedy pace to the point where you just shrug your shoulders and say, “well, alright then.” Although Danny only appears a handful of times, he adds the most comic relief of any character. This is particularly true when Danny assists Tiffany and Pat with the ballroom dance they are working on. Immediately upon walking into the studio, Danny takes on the role of a professional dance instructor. His confidence will make you snicker as he suggests irrelevant moves to ballroom such as booty popping, and jumping up and down without purpose. What makes the situation even more amusing, is Pat and Tiffany’s serious attentiveness to Danny’s absurd coaching. Like Pat and Tiffany, we can tell Danny is slightly off. Chris Tucker depicts Danny’s unstable state flawlessly with his constant wide eyes and tendency to run his
sentences together. Yet, he portrays such self‐assurance with each word. You can’t help but admire Danny, regardless of his compulsive lies about his whereabouts. The film mostly is just a nice break from typical poorly acted, brainlessly humorous, and conventionally plotted romantic comedies. So if you are looking for a mostly feel‐good film, that addresses serious issues, without depressing you for two hours, Silver Linings Playbook is your movie of choice.