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Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook

November 30, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook – An Alliance Films’ Release

http://silverliningsplaybookmovie.com/

Release Date: November 21st, 2012

Rated 14A for coarse language and mature themes

Running time: 121 minutes

David O. Russell (dir.)

David O. Russell (screenplay)

Based on the novel The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Danny Elfman (music)

Bradley Cooper as Pat

Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany

Robert De Niro as Pat Sr.

Jacki Weaver as Dolores

Chris Tucker as Danny

Anupam Kher as Dr. Cliff Patel

John Ortiz as Ronnie

Shea Whigham as Jake

Julia Stiles as Veronica

Paul Herman as Randy

Dash Mihok as Officer Keogh

Brea Bee as Nikki

©Alliance Films.  All Rights Reserved.

Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and Pat (Bradley Cooper) in Silver Linings Playbook.

Our reviews below:

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Silver Linings Playbook Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

There are so many excellent things to be said about Silver Linings Playbook that I’ve been wanting to say since I first saw it at the Toronto International Film Festival back in September, that I could literally start anywhere to begin laying on the praise.  The winner of the coveted People’s Choice Award at TIFF, an excellent script and brilliant performances help the touching film reach greatness.

Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is a former high school teacher who has just gotten out of a court ordered eight month stay at a mental hospital.  With the support of his superstitious father (Robert De Niro) who spends his time betting on Philadelphia Eagles football games, and put upon mother (Jackie Weaver) who’s just trying to keep the family together, Pat tries desperately to find a silver lining in his situation.  But the happy ending to his story might not be the one he was initially expecting.  As he tries desperately to realize his delusional dream of winning back his ex-wife Nikki (Brea Bee), he starts falling for the equally fragile Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a sexually charged young woman who is still grieving the death of her husband.

We want Pat and Tiffany to be together because they need each other in their own ways, and are deeply invested in the exhilarating finale of the film because we actually care about the characters.  “This is what I believe to be true,” Pat tells his psychiatrist Dr. Cliff Patel (Anupam Kher), “you have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest.  And if you do, if you stay positive, then you have a shot at a silver lining.”  It’s an outlook on life that we could all benefit from, and the fact that Pat is able to maintain this attitude throughout even his darkest moments is one of the most inspiring parts of the film.  Although the excellent screenplay by director David O. Russell makes some changes from Matthew Quick’s wonderful debut novel, both the book and movie stand proudly alongside each other.

Bradley Cooper does his best work yet in Silver Linings Playbook, perfectly capturing both the manic episodes and shocking emotional breakdowns of his character, without losing sight of the energy that drives him forward.  Jennifer Lawrence delivers a performance that is as entertaining as it is emotionally demanding, bringing to life a character who is shocking in her abruptness while still managing to be sexy, sometimes all in the same scene.  It’s an expertly handled performance that fully deserves to win Best Actress at the Oscars, and the rest of the cast is equally strong.  Robert De Niro delivers several genuinely touching scenes, and Jackie Weaver is excellent in the way that she plays off of the other characters.  Chris Tucker is just perfect in a funny and tragic supporting role.

It’s a little hard to put into words the perfectly balanced tone of Silver Linings Playbook.  It seems like the marketing team has decided to advertise the film as a straight up romantic comedy, even though it offers something much deeper and more emotionally satisfying than the spoiler-filled trailers have let on and the classification of that genre would usually allow.  The excellent screenplay allows for ample moments of quirky humour and bittersweet romance, and both these things help make the film one of the most entertaining of the year.  But the way that it so perfectly balances these elements with emotional honesty and a sense of underlying heartache is what connected to me on such a deeply personal level and something that the marketing team has seemingly tried to ignore.

With brilliant performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook is entertaining and moving in equal measure, ranking among the best of the year.  From the acting, to the writing and soundtrack which includes the perfectly timed use of songs alongside an excellent Danny Elfman score, literally everything about the film is just perfect.  The screenplay never hits a wrong note in the way that it so eloquently blends humour and heartache, leading up to one of the most satisfying and life affirming final scenes in recent memory.  I’ve seen it three times now and finally feel like I am able to articulate what I have been trying to say since TIFF – Silver Linings Playbook is a masterpiece.

“The world will break your heart ten ways to Sunday,” Pat tells us in one of the most deeply affecting moments of voice over that continues to resonate long after the credits roll.  The world will knock you down and this movie knows it, but Silver Linings Playbook also fearlessly tells us that it’s okay to get back up again, just so long as we find the silver linings and remain positive no matter what.

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Silver Linings Playbook Review by Erin V.  

**** (out of 4)

Silver Linings Playbook is a story about new beginnings, the relationships we have with the people around us, and looking for the silver linings in life.

Based on the excellent first novel by author Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook is the story of Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), who after being released from an 8-month stay at a psychiatric centre, is focused on putting his life back together, being a better person, and restarting his marriage with Nikki (Brea Bee).  He is living with his parents again – his OCD-ish father (Robert De Niro) who feels that having Pat back home will help the Eagles get to the playoffs and give a boost to his bookmaking, and his mother (Jacki Weaver) who tries her best to keep both of them on track.  But then Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young women with issues of her own.  In their own way, they are perfect for each other.

Despite what it may sound with Nikki, this is not a love triangle.  Nikki is really more of an idea than an actual character, and we know pretty early on that Pat and her are not meant to be together.  Instead, this is the story of Pat and his readjustment to his (new) life after the ‘incident’ that caused him to be court-ordered to serve time at the facility.  But more than that, it is just a people story with genuine characters trying to figure out their lives.

It is a hard film to pin down in a synopsis, so probably the best thing I can say is go experience this one for yourself.  It deserves acting nominations in all categories, for Cooper, Lawrence, De Niro, Weaver, and Chris Tucker for his turn as Pat’s friend Danny.  I also would love to see it as a nominee for Best Picture, and definitely adapted screenplay as well.

Unfortunately the box office hasn’t been the best, although after a strong reception at TIFF this September (including winning the People’s Choice Award), here’s hoping that with strong word-of-mouth, audiences will take to this absolutely wonderful and worthwhile film.  It is touching, funny, and really entertaining – I can honestly say that Silver Linings Playbook is one of the best films of the year, hands down.

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Silver Linings Playbook Review by Nicole

**** (out of 4)

Based on the book by Matthew Quick, Silver linings Playbook tells the story of one man’s “silver lining” through mental illness.  Pat (Bradley Cooper) has just gotten out of a psychiatric hospital.  he ended up there through a criminal diversion program after beating up a man whom he caught cheating with his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee).  Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Pat is desperately trying to find his “excelsior” and prove to Nikki that he has “recovered.”

Trouble is, his behaviour has left him with a restraining order against her, as well as damaged his reputation.  The truth is, bipolar is chronic and Pat’s mania results in waking up his parents during nighttime meltdowns.  His own father (Robert De Niro) has mental health issues of his own, in the form of football related OCD and gambling addictions.

Things start to get more complicated when Pat gets to know Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), his best friend Ronnie’s (John Ortiz) sister-in-law.  She is a young widow who has experienced mental illness herself.  Tiffany has connections to Nikki and she promise to be Pat’s go between through the restraining order.  But perhaps Tiffany and Pat may be right for each other.

Silver Linings Playbook is a triumphant film.  It doesn’t sugarcoat mental illness, but it lives up to its name.  The depictions of mental illness in the film are sensitive and, while not representative of everyone as most people with mental illness are non-violent, the film is believable considering the circumstances that the characters have faced.  Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are both perfect, and may get nominations at the Oscars.  The screenplay and entire film may very well also get nominated.

Much of Silver Linings Playbook revolves around football and leads up to Christmas, making it perfect for this time of year.  This is a feel good movie that is serious, funny, romantic and one of the year’s best.

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Silver Linings Playbook Review by Maureen

**** (out of 4)

It can be said that a silver lining of sorts can be found in almost any situation.  In Silver Linings Playbook, the lead character Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is working hard to be the best he can be now that he’s been released from his court ordered stay at the psychiatric hospital.  Pat believes that if he continues to get fit by running every day, reading the right books and seeing his therapist Dr. Cliff Patel (Anupam Kher) as scheduled, then his estranged wife Nikki (Brea Bee) will reunite with him.  However, with his recently diagnosed bipolar disorder and mood swings, Pat has a hard time sorting out where the silver linings really are in his life.

Trying to help Pat back to a “near normal” life are his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver), and his best friend Ronnie (John Ortiz) and wife Veronica (Julia Stiles).  Mom and Dad have their own issues to deal with.  Pat Sr. has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and his own mood swings, all made worse by the performance of his favourite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles.  Mom tries to keep the peace by keeping the good Italian comfort food coming.  Friends Ronnie and Veronica try to help by introducing Pat to Veronica’s sister, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow who has serious mental health issues of her own.

The dynamics between all the characters are believably real.  The reluctant friendship between Pat and Tiffany is especially interesting to watch develop.  Both have so many issues of their own to deal with, that it’s hard for them to see the silvering linings that their time together brings.  Silver Linings Playbook works so well because of David O. Russell’s well written dialogue and the amazing cast.  Both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence give awards worthy performances that never delve into caricatures of mental illness.  All of this is backed by a great score by Danny Elfman.

Silver Linings Playbook is funny, heartfelt and sincere.  The mental illness is never played for laughs, simply honestly portrayed.  Some moments are inadvertently funny, others sad.  It’s simply people trying to be the best they can be at that point in time.  Adapted from Matthew Quick’s excellent novel, Silver Linings Playbook has done justice to the source material, even if some plot points are changed.  This movie is one of the best of 2012.

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Silver Linings Playbook Review by Tony

**** (out of 4)

Silver Linings Playbook opens with Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) being released from a secure mental health facility into the custody of his parents, Pat Sr. and Dolores (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) after serving eight months for aggravated assault. With a new positive attitude, he harbours the faint hope of reconciliation with his ex-wife (Brea Bee) and returning to work at the school where he was a substitute teacher, despite restraining orders in both cases and a refusal to take his bipolar medication.

As a bookmaker and serious fan of the local Philadelphia Eagles football team, Pat Sr. is very superstitious, believing his son’s presence will bring good luck, but Pat prefers to go out during games. Pat’s buddy Ronnie (John Ortiz) invites him to dinner along with his wife Veronica’s (Julia Stiles) younger sister Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Tiffany has had mental issues of her own following the death of her husband, a police officer. Despite initial friction, an empathy develops between Pat and Tiffany. She offers to get a message to Pat’s ex if he will be her dance partner in a local competition. The stakes of this competition turn out to be much higher than anyone could have imagined.

Adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook has a brilliant script worthy of a fine stage play. Having first seen it at its TIFF premiere and again just now, I could appreciate all the more how every line falls into place and how perfectly the leading and supporting actors realize their characters. In addition to the main couples, Chris Tucker steals several scenes as Pat’s hospital buddy Danny. Though the Australian Jacki Weaver barely gets a word in among all the brilliant banter, her performance is all the more remarkable as every facial expression is exactly appropriate to her character.

The whole production directed by David O.Russell supports the script perfectly, always moving the action exactly where it has to go next, all supported by a fine Danny Elfman score.

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Consensus: With brilliant performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as well as an excellent screenplay by director David O. Russell that perfectly balances both humour and heartache, Silver Linings Playbook is an outstanding film.  **** (Out of 4)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather Von Zuben permalink
    November 30, 2012 11:56 pm

    William and I went and saw this movie the other night with my friend Jody and her son Reid. We all loved it!!! Great acting all around, loved the soundtrack and loved the whole family dynamic. William went to try and see it tonight with his girlfriend and it was sold out, so hopefully through word of mouth this movie will be seen by many more people.

    Like

    • December 1, 2012 12:29 am

      Glad to hear that you all loved Silver Linings Playbook as much as we did and it’s nice to know that more people are seeing the film. Here’s hoping it can pick up speed at the box office over the next little while and carry that success throughout the rest of the Oscar season.

      As always, thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂

      -John C.

      Like

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