The Good: Interesting characters, Some decent performances, Charm
The Bad: Moments of forced humor, Plot is overly familiar.
The Basics: Silver Lining Playbook is a decent dramedy that teams Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence well.
Earlier this year, I was quite excited to finally have the opportunity to catch It’s Kind Of A Funny Story (reviewed here!) and I was pleased when it was as good as the previews had made it out to be. Recently, I had a similar enthusiasm for The Master (reviewed here!), which just did not pop. Fortunately, coming off that huge cinematic disappointment, my experience with Silver Lining Playbook was more like watching It’s Kind Of A Funny Story than The Master! In fact, more than any other issue within the film, what hampers Silver Lining Playbook is its familiarity and predictability.
Silver Lining Playbook is based upon a novel by the same name. As is my habit in such circumstances, it behooves me to mention that I have not read the novel and as a result, this review is very purely of the film.
Following an angry incident with his wife, Nikki, Pat Solitano goes to the psychiatric hospital. After eight months of in-patient treatment, Pat leaves the hospital and moves in with his parents (his mother signs him out while his father is much more wary of his return). Still dealing with anger issues and obsessing over Nikki, Pat finds life on the outside difficult. He struggles to relate to his parents and visitors who he sees, outside his friend from the hospital, Danny (who pops up periodically more as an escapee than a person with a clean bill of mental health). In trying to win back Nikki, who has a restraining order against him, Pat finds Tiffany, a young widow with impulse control problems useful.
But when Tiffany offers to get a letter Nikki (something no one else in his life is willing to do), Tiffany exacts a price. She loves dancing and needs a partner for an upcoming dance contest. So, the two begin spending real time together, much to the chagrin of Pet's father, who views Pat as a good luck charm and believes his presence is important with him in order for the Eagles to win and for him to win enough money to start a restaurant. In learning to dance with Tiffany, Pat finds the relationship he needs to work his way through his issues with Nikki.
Silver Linings Playbook is a dramedy that is far less funny than the previews made it look, much like Crazy Stupid Love (reviewed here!). Even so, the film is packed with charm and both Pat and Tiffany are quirky enough to make the film pop and feel original more often than it feels familiar. In other words, even though the plot is very predictable, Silver Linings Playbook feels fun because the characters are interesting.
Pat and his father, played by Robert De Niro, have amazing chemistry. De Niro and Bradley Cooper (the junior Pat) play off one another in a way that makes the viewer completely convinced they have a long history between them and that is more than just good casting, that is the very definition of great acting. Both roles are well within the range of each actor, but the interplay they have with one another is what truly sells and lands their relationship.
In a similar fashion, Jennifer Lawrence, whose repertoire is still too small for me to judge does well with the role of Tiffany. Lawrence has the twitchy quality to sell the post traumatic stress aspect of Tiffany and more than that, she exhibits a decent sense of comic timing in Silver Linings Playbook. Jennifer Lawrence has a good balance in defining Tiffany.
The success of Silver Linings Playbook comes in the chemistry between the leads. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence have more on-screen chemistry than Cooper has had with any of his prior co-stars since Jennifer Garner. Lawrence may be working to establish herself as a serious actress outside the two franchises that assure her box office successes for the near future, and Silver Linings Playbook is successful in that. Lawrence shows that she has more range than the somewhat formulaic roles she has been trapped in before this and her performance and the chemistry she has with Cooper make the film more than the average romantic comedy or contrived formula drama.
Worth seeing, Silver Linings Playbook is good, but might be a tougher sell to add to one’s permanent collection when the time comes.
For other works with Jennifer Lawrence, check out my reviews of:
The Hunger Games
X-Men: First Class
For other films, be sure to visit my Movie Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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