Film Review: Humor and pursuit of hope make it east to spot this film’s silver lining

Film Review: Humor and pursuit of hope make it east to spot this film’s silver lining
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper star in “Silver Linings Playbook.” Photo courtesy of the Weinstein Company

Funny, peculiar and uplifting in its pursuit for hope in a situation saying otherwise, “Silver Linings Playbook” resonates with charmingly vivid energy that will keep audiences laughing and focused, thanks to the performances of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. 

There are two major events the public recognizes around this time of year. On the one hand, we have Thanksgiving — the day when we give thanks for a common purpose and eat a celebratory one-of-a-kind feast.

Include the parades, football games and hectic travel schedules, and it is one giant of a winter holiday. On the other hand, there is the Oscar season, acknowledged as the time period when the most critically acclaimed films are released in order to qualify for the Academy Awards.

And if there’s one film that not only fits the profile of a prospective Oscar-worthy film, but also provides the kind of soulful entertainment expected in this particular month, it is “Silver Linings Playbook.”

After spending eight months in a mental institution, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) finds himself living in his parents’ (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) house with no job and no spouse. Pat resolves to salvage what remains of his former life and reunite with his wife, Nikki, even though the circumstances surrounding their separation make his goal easier said than done.

In contrast, his father and mother are determined to have him get back on his feet, not to mention partake in their family’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team.

But when Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence) — a mysterious neighbor with issues of her own — meets Pat, to say life gets complicated is an understatement.

Tiffany makes a deal with Pat: If he assists her in doing something that matters a lot to her, she’ll help him reconnect with his estranged wife. In the process of honoring their bargain, however, the two of them form an unexpected relationship and experience silver linings in both of their lives.

I like how director David O. Russell (“Three Kings,” “I Heart Huckabees,”) balances the gravity of the psychological and social issues happening in the lead characters’ lives with the hilarity of their interactions.

The jogging scenes that Cooper and Lawrence share together in the first act, as well as the dancing sequences in the second and third, certainly embody the director’s eye-catching cinematic trademark.

I, for one, cannot tell you the number of times I was laughing with the audience whenever the two of them shared incredibly witty moments through frank dialogue.

I also found it refreshing to see a film that did not view dysfunctional persons through a sitcom lens.

Amid the clever humor, “Silver Linings Playbook” devotes a sizeable portion of screen time to granting the audience the privilege of understanding what these characters are going through, be it mental illness, death of a loved one, marital failure, or even football.

Russell’s direction manages to capture each person’s emotions as he or she tries to make the best of a conflict-and misbehavior-riddled life, thanks in no small part to the cast.

And what a cast. Bradley Cooper hits all the right notes in his role as Pat; I found his strive to make things right and the internal journey he undertakes for the better to be relatable and heartwarming. Whether he is frustrated or at ease, any state of mind fits his character like a glove.

The word “impressive” doesn’t even begin to describe Jennifer Lawrence here; the more accurate term for her now would be “remarkable.” She has come a long way since “Winter’s Bone,” “X-Men: First Class,” and “The Hunger Games.” The depth she brings to Tiffany is guaranteed to amuse and enthrall moviegoers. Robert De Niro also proves to be excellent as Pat Solitano, Sr., and his quietly emotive performance demonstrates he still has what it takes to maintain his acting veteran status.

Like “Argo,” “Looper,” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” before it, “Silver Linings Playbook” is an entertaining and earnest film that cannot be missed as families gather to celebrate Thanksgiving. And from what I’ve seen, Cooper and Lawrence are reason enough to go see it.

When: Now Playing

Where: Wide Release

Run time: 2 hours 2 minutes

Rating: R



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