515 of 551 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2013
This is why we go to movies. Silver Linings Playbook is that rare breed of movie where all the moving parts got put together in exactly the right way. The dialogue is sharp, witty, insightful, funny, and often brutally honest. It respects and holds true affection for its characters and the wonderful ensemble cast makes it look easy. The direction, editing and soundtrack are spot on. It is a future classic and the best movie of the year.
Pat is an underachieving substitute high school history teacher who has just been released from the Karel Psychiatric Facility after spending an eight month court-ordered stint for nearly beating the history teacher to death when he finds him in the shower with his wife. His doting, eternally optimistic mother brings him home hoping that the worst of his previously undiagnosed bipolar symptoms are under control. But his refusal to take his meds and an unfortunate incident concerning Earnest Hemingway and a window quickly dispels that optimism. Pat is in fact clueless, living inside a self-delusion bubble in which he reunites with the truly unattainable object of his obsession, his wife Nikki. Two more mismatched souls the world has never seen but he is the only one who doesn't realize it. He plods doggedly on in pursuit, oblivious to everything and everyone else around him. His illness has removed the normal barriers that prevent him from expressing the unfiltered truth as he sees it, making for some awkward, cringe-worthy, often humorous exchanges. Pat is hardly ready for the real world.
And he certainly is not ready for Tiffany. Pat's best friend invites him over for a homecoming dinner which turns out to be a blind date with his wife's recently widowed sister, Tiffany. Tiffany suffers from severe depression and her mood swings run the gamut - volatile, bitter, vulnerable, stubborn, sexy, and sweet - all thrown randomly into a mixer and blended at high speed. Everyone is a little afraid of her. Her depression results from her guilt over her husband's death which she attributes to her loss of sexual interest in him. She sleeps with everyone in her office in an attempt to anesthetize herself from her emotional pain. She is dead inside, just breathing air. And into this web steps the unsuspecting Pat.
From the moment they meet sparks and barbs fly indiscriminately between them, much to the horror of their hosts who believe they are witnessing a train wreck in the making. But these two lost and damaged souls immediately connect, kindred spirits seeking respite from the storm. Pat is overwhelmed, unable to come to grips with guilt over the intensity of his attraction to Tiffany and the incident sends him into an uncontrolled manic episode. Tiffany feels the same connection and it jolts her far enough out of her stupor for her to see the possibilities. When Pat turns down her offer to sleep with her the flame sparks higher, her curiosity is piqued, and her pursuit begins in earnest. As she starts to nurture and guide Pat, she develops such a flaming torch for him that it would blister the skin off any ordinary guy. But he is oblivious, content just to follow her around like the lost puppy he is. She grabs the opportunity full throttle, dragging the perplexed, not-quite-ready-for-reality Pat along for the ride.
The cast is simply brilliant. Bradley Cooper is a revelation as the bipolar misfit whose philosophy consists of working hard and staying positive to find the silver lining in everything. He and Jennifer Lawrence have such electrifying chemistry together that you find yourself rooting for them to find a way to be together from the moment they meet. Robert DeNiro comes alive in his Oscar-nominated role as Pat's Eagles-obsessed, superstitious, OCD bookie father. Chris Tucker deserves special mention as Pat's equally optimistic fellow psychiatric inmate and friend Danny ("Black it up Pat!").
But make no doubt about it - this is Jennifer Lawrence's movie. At twenty two she is the real thing. Her performance here is transcendental. Even with the marvelous supporting cast holding the bar so high the movie would not work without her. She is visceral - caustic and vulnerable in the same breath. Her facial expressions hide nothing - she is fearless, willing to expose Tiffany's raw emotional core to everyone around her, warts and all as she juggles staying one step ahead of both Pats obsession as well as her own. The transformational changes that occur are put into motion and propelled forward by her. She bets everything with no guarantee that he is capable of giving her what she so desperately needs, willing to run the risk of diving off the emotional cliff for a chance at the real thing. Her character is the lynchpin of the story. And Jennifer Lawrence is nowhere to be found here. The success of the movie rides on her shoulders and she is brilliantly up to the task. Her talent is embarrassing.
The film is unapologetically romantic but dismissing it as a simple romance is missing the point. It deals with family, friendship, truth, sacrifice, and love as imperfect ideals worth fighting for regardless of your place in the world. It is a brave film. Do yourself a favor, go see it. It is ultimately a joyous affirmation of life's possibilities. And who doesn't need a little of that?
132 of 150 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2013
I didn't expect to like this film since I've disliked Bradley Cooper's past roles and because the script sounded shallow and formulaic. Initially, I thought they'd included De Niro as a come-on. In fact, the only reason I saw the film was because of Jennifer Lawrence, whose sophisticated performance in WINTER'S BONE convinced me I'd seen the breakthrough of a gifted actress.
Well, I was wrong about Cooper, wrong about De Niro's inclusion, wrong about a formulaic script, and dead-on about Jennifer Lawrence. Simply stated, this quirky, brilliant story of the evolution of love between two world-worn, emotionally troubled people -- against the chaotic background of family madness -- was one of the most satisfying, funny and affecting movies I've seen in recent years. In terms of clarity, continuity and heart, it surpasses the book on which it was based.
Since others have described the plot on this page, I will say that millions of viewers who have not seen the film will find parts of their emotional lives in the trials of the lead characters. They will marvel at Bradley Cooper's jaw-dropping portrayal of of a man shackled by the manic phase of bipolar disorder. They will wince at those moments in which the love between the principals starts to emerge, and falters. They will discover a performance by Lawrence that is comfortably sensual, and an actress who is equally powerful whether she is mute or screaming.
The script is complex and masterfully written, with surprising outburst of pathos and hilarity. The climax of the film -- and I won't enter a spoiler here -- caught me by surprise. I wept at the beauty of it, the director's mastery of realism, and the restoration of originality and complexity to American comedy.
It may be that we're all fundamentally "crazy" and that these two lovers legitimize the chaos we feel inside. It may also be that the art direction, score, supporting performances (De Niro is simply wonderful) and choreography are jaw-dropping. In the end, it's the confluence of so many virtues that make this film as fine as it is. For Bradley Cooper, it's a career-defining moment For Jennifer Lawrence, it's confirmation of what the wise always believed, and hopefully she'll be spared casting in horror films in perpetuity. She is one of our very best, and her beauty, grace and innate power to inhabit the souls of her characters -- are most unusual.
While I've enjoyed it once, I plan to view it again tomorrow evening, will continue to discuss it with friends, and add it to my list of favorites.
That's not bad at all.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is a gift. Prepare to receive it because it delivers.
127 of 146 people found the following review helpful
David O. Russell's "Silver Linings Playbook" is a big hearted and nearly irresistible concoction that presents one of the year's most unlikely romances. I've been a huge Russell fan since his debut with "Spanking the Monkey" and "Flirting With Disaster" is one of my favorite flights of outrageousness. Russell can have an edgy cynicism about his eccentric characters, but he knows how to make an audience identify with even their most offbeat characteristics. Make no mistake, "Silver Linings Playbook" is loaded with an expected array of troubled souls. But the most remarkable thing about this film (and its screenplay) is the amount of compassion it shows to just about everyone. With a stellar cast including Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker and John Ortiz, the movie boasts easily one of the best ensembles of the year. Each of these actors is given a fully written character and each makes a huge impression in the screen time allotted. That's what impressed me most about the film. It embraces its large cast and allows every member to shine!
Cooper plays a man being released from institutionalized care after a violent episode got him into trouble. Having lost his job and his wife, he is taken in by his parents (Weaver and DeNiro) who must contend with his bipolar condition. Cooper is single-minded in his pursuit to get back together with his wife, to the point of obsession. When he meets an odd young widow (Lawrence) dealing with plenty of personal demons, the two seem like they've got a lot in common. Of course, they seem perfect for each other but Cooper remains oblivious for most of the movie. Cooper and Lawrence have a great chemistry, even in confrontation (which is most of the time), but their verbal exchanges and smart dialogue are really what distinguish this piece. On paper, "Silver Linings Playbook" sounds like it might be a bit of a disaster. It might be filled with cliches about mental illness and stock romantic subplots. But Russell travels off the beaten path. The movie speaks volumes about family and commitment with unexpected plot detours that include gambling, football, and even competitive dancing.
Every character in the movie is a mess! Really! But you still root for them to come together. Cooper shows new acting chops, while Lawrence is smart and appealing. DeNiro has one of his best supporting roles in years, he's playing an actual character and not just a caricature of himself. His estrangement with Cooper fuels much of the movie. The saintly Weaver is so good, worlds away from her Oscar nominated turn in "Animal Kingdom" as the evil matriarch. And Ortiz and Tucker really score in smaller roles. The movie might follow standard romantic comedy conventions in its primary plot, but you've never seen them orchestrated in quite this way. The big finale, in fact, has one of the most uncomfortable (and biggest) laughs of the year as our leads strut their stuff on the dance floor. This is not all comedy, nor all drama, but an appealing blend that feels both fanciful and real. Russell obviously loves these characters and I think you will too. About 4 1/2 stars. KGHarris, 12/12.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2013
What is...is mental illness, and what should never be...is mental illness: This theme is represented through the very relatable story of an American family living in Philadelphia, PA. Patrick (Bradley Cooper) is leaving the hospital, after 8 months as an inpatient. This is where he received his diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and is going home to confront more than his fair share of life's major issues. Ill-equipped emotionally, although now knowing the reason why his life has been in disarray, he takes the bull by the horns with a positive attitude and goes mining for a silver lining.
The interactions of friends and family, including his father (Robert De Niro) and mother (Jacki Weaver), embraces all the successes and mishaps which make this story feel so relatable. They all convincingly display the boundaries crossed, inappropriate behavior and controversial thinking present from time to time with Bipolar Disorder. Patrick becomes extremely frustrated with the ending of Ernest Hemingway's, "A Farewell To Arms" and in a hair-trigger response pitches the book through his bedroom window. This scenario is very relative to the anger, which sometimes simmers right under the surface and is very difficult to control. His agitation (or bipolar anger) is quite understandable considering the state of his marriage and is as much present in the negative situations as in the positive; it walks hand-in-hand with the illness.
Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) is living with many intense issues of her own upon meeting Patrick. Their introduction is splendid and humorously filled with the mix-ups that become unique to them. Moving forward, they form a camaraderie through comparing medications, pointing out where the other is "inappropriate", jogging on the same route, dancing lessons, and an airtight relationship that leads to love. Their relationship is impressively acted and shows the 'normalcy' that the situation can and does become. Patrick's friend Danny (Chris Tucker) who he meets in the hospital turns in a smaller role which adds much life and laughs to the movie.
The soundtrack (Danny Elfman) brings a standout masterpiece in itself to the characters. A deft placement of purpose filled songs is overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. The vocals of Jack White (The White Stripes) are itchy and chaotic throughout. These are as ominous as the bombast of Led Zeppelin's fracturing song ("What Is and What Should Never Be") featured during Patrick's bipolar episode at his parents home. I found the music in this as important as another character to this movie's relevance.
Director David O. Russell is meticulous with the screenplay and uniquely personal with his own son contributing a spot-on performance in a bit-part. "Silver Linings Playbook" (written by Matthew Quick during his own depression and subsequent pursuit to move forward) is a resiliently accurate portrayal of mental illness and family dynamics. A very comedic, painful but insightful look into Bipolar Disorder in its everyday life and a definite don't miss kind of movie.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2013
The film centers around Patrick (Bradley Cooper), a bipolar person, who has issues. He goes into a berserk mode whenever he hears "My Cherie Amour" like Curly used to do when they played "Pop Goes the Weasel." Of course bipolar people should be introduced to other bipolar people, because you never sleep with anyone crazier than yourself.
Patrick is introduced to Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who steals every scene with an Oscar worthy performance. Robert De Niro plays Patrick's father, a superstitious Eagles fan, who appears to be slightly bipolar himself. While institutionalized, Patrick learned to look for "the silver lining" in everything in order to cope with life, something he doesn't always do too well. Tiffany has her own issues and together they haphazardly work their way into a relationship.
They should film more movies in Philadelphia as I have never seen the streets so clean. It is a heart warming, fun drama/romance with an indie flavor. Worth a view, but not necessarily on the big screen.
Parental Guidance: F-bombs, no sex, brief nudity.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2013
This was one of the best movies I have seen in a long time. The reason why it was so good? Because it was people ACTING and doing an amazing job at it. Not a whole bunch of crazy CGI and explosions to take away from an actor's lack of talent. Great casting in this movie. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence play what it's like to suffer a loss combined with previous mental illness and how it feels to have lived the worst moment in your life, and have everyone around you see you as a crazy, broken outcast. This is an amazing movie for anyone who has gone through what these two characters have because it makes you feel human, not broken. Thank God, Hollywood and the rest of society are starting to accept mental illness as an ILLNESS and not something to be ashamed of.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2013
It seems that often when we go to the movies we are expecting something. Sometimes maybe our expectations are too high, but each film strives to send some kind of a message. Too often films will fail in their attempt; these are not always bad films. I would argue that sometimes really good films fall a little short. Nevertheless we will go to the movies expecting to have an enjoyable time. A film does not always have to be great to have an enjoyable time. But when the credits role and the film has played our hope is that we got something out of it. I myself always want to have some kind of takeaway. If I don't have a takeaway I believe that film was a failure regardless if it was well-written or well-acted. A film I just watched has everything I look for in a film, and that film is Silver Linings Playbook.
Silver Linings Playbook is a rare kind of film. Some may ask why I feel this way, well sit back and I will tell you. I don't always like films that are about life in general because too often they do not portray anything I have seen about life and where life takes you. However, to me Silver Linings Playbook has a true ring to it. I am really noting like either of the main characters as I am neither bipolar or a 20 year old widow. But I am someone with a lot of life experience and the message in the film is clear. Too often we hang on to the things that have broken our hearts. Broken hearts are really part of life, everyone will experience heartbreak in their lifetime there is no way around it. My experience with heartbreak would usually come if I felt something was missing. When that something is missing we strive to do every thing in our power to get it back. But I remember something I heard in a Best Picture winning film just a few years ago. By the time we get done chasing what is gone there is more going out the door. Sometimes the thing we are looking for is standing before our very eyes and we refuse to see it because a broken heart makes you blind in many ways.
I don't want anyone to be discouraged by what I am saying and think this is just another sad cry your eyes out film. It is not one of those films at all, I will be honest I laughed more than anything else. It is a film where you can laugh, cry, and even be inspired. There is a reason for the first time in 31 years this film is nominated for every acting category at the Academy Awards. It is a wonderful film, and don't just take my word for it. Many say the same thing so if you are wondering if you should see it then wonder no more!
27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2013
An absolutely great movie. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence have two outstanding performances for which Lawrence won the Best Actress Oscar, not too mention the supporting jobs done by Robert De Niro, Jackie Weaver, Chris Tucker and many others.
Set in Philadelphia, the movie shows Pat Solitano (Cooper) returning home from a stint in a mental institution after a domestic incident with his ex-wife highlighted his struggle with bipolar mood swings. Pat moves back in with his parents (De Niro and Weaver) as her tries to get his life back together, hoping to reunite with his ex-wife. Things get very interesting when Pat meets Tiffany (Lawrence), a young woman with issues of her own.
If nothing more, the movie shows that life is not always perfect. Things can get out of control and spiral. All the same, with family and friends in our lives, it's always worth moving forward.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2013
I have to be honest and say that i didn't hear very good reviews on this movie. But, because I am a movie fanatic i must always see for myself. First off, I am a huge fan of Jennifer Lawrence and that was exciting in itself. The movie was hilarious, witty, charming, crazy, confusing and in all good ways. Robert Dinero oddly made me cry of course. The overall story was amazing. Love does not always come like in fairy tales and this movie proves that. Sometimes the pain can bring two people together, and sometimes the people we need the most are right in front of us, even if we cannot see it right away. All i can say its suprizing-ly entertaining and you will not regret watching it. I suggest you watch this when you arent distracted by noise because everything that they say ,,,trust me you want to hear! I bought it the next day. GREAT movie!
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2013
It's often said that most romantic comedies or even comedy-dramas are now more paint-by-number than actual story, and that may be true, but "Silver Linings Playbook" manages more depth and heart than most, and, in making both halves of the prospective whole majorly messed up, also more "real".
If you're reading this site, you likely have seen in other reviews just what the story involves, so this review won't bore you with repeating the synopsis. With that said, Pat Solitano and Tiffany Maxwell are two broken, messed up people, certainly not the usual people one would expect a romantic dramedy to focus upon, but that is actually what makes the movie different and special. With Pat's bipolar disease and struggle to get it under control and rebuild his life (and get his wife back, a running theme which leads to Tiffany and more than he bargained for), and Tiffany's propensity to use sex as a salve *and* an emotional shield (which even sort of plays into the guilt over her husband's death), these are not the usual people you would associate with a love story.
And this movie is a love story, but not only for Pat and Tiffany. It is a love of family, a love of dance, a love (obsessively so) of football, and, oddly, if not love, a sort of respectful nod to mental illness without making fun of it *or* miring itself in misery. Mental instability is almost its own character in the film, working its way around from Pat to Tiffany to Pat's own OCD father (brilliantly acted by Robert DeNiro) whose football superstitions rival his son's own problems, and also to Pat's friend from the mental institution (where he was forcibly remanded to for eight months after a rage incident upon discovering his cheating wife and her lover), Danny, who is well played by Chris Tucker, who teaches Pat and Tiffany a thing or two about dancing, and the craziness of falling in love with someone just as crazy as the other person. But in combining that crazy, oddly, comes stability. All of the above - besides the aforementioned DeNiro and Tucker - are pitch perfect, including Jacki Weaver, whose role as what would be just the vanilla wife and mother in any other romance movie, is filled with an extra "something" that allows her not to fade into the shadows against Cooper, DeNiro, or Lawrence, the latter three who, admittedly, make this movie shine. Lawrence, for being so young, shows that she is no fluke, has acting chops, and deserved that Lead Actress Oscar for her effort. The fact that Weaver, Cooper and, I believe DeNiro, were also nominated is no accident, either. A stellar cast only elevates what is already a terrific screenplay, also rare for the usual rom-com.
To be clear, Pat and Tiffany are not meant as "poster children" for the mentally ill, so those who may initially want to steer clear because of the subject matter can rest assured, just two people who, through circumstance, manage to merge their brand of insanity into their own form of happiness and calm and focus when together. As the message of the movie says, it's about "reading the signs" and, if read right, those signs can lead from dark to light, a true "silver lining".