Review: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence Shine Bright in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

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It’s nice to know that Bradley Cooper can play something other than an annoying or jerky character. In “Silver Linings Playbook,” he plays Pat, a former teacher who is institutionalized after violently beating his wife’s lover. He is then discovered to have a few disorders which make him act the way he does. After being released from the mental institution, he immediately seeks to track down his wife, Nikki, and persuade her that he’s changed for the better. Then he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl with her own issues, and things begin to take a different turn.

“Silver Linings Playbook” is layered with beautiful writing, wonderful acting, outstanding directing, and a unique and very real quality that makes it very relatable. Everyone can walk away with something from this movie. It’s special in a way many movies aren’t. It has a heart and never once falls within the melodramatic category.
From the get-go, we see a very mature beginning and know that it will be a bumpy ride the whole way through. What the film acknowledges is that no one and no situation are perfect and many times it’s a struggle to accept that. It’s an even harder struggle to figure things out once you have.
Most every character at some point falls apart and struggles to put themselves back together. It’s sad and breathtaking to watch it unfold. “Silver Linings Playbook” is full of serious issues and drama, yet there are several laugh out loud moments that come so naturally and flow so smoothly. This makes the movie seem less contrived and forced and much more like you were watching a regular family interact.
David O. Russell wrote and directed the movie based on the book by Matthew Quick. What Russell did was relate to the story before bringing it to life. His son also suffers from OCD and bipolar disorder like Pat; so passion was most definitely part of the story telling that opened our eyes and hearts to the struggles of Pat and Tiffany and allowed us to feel with them.
For years, Bradley Cooper’s appeared in several movies and become a familiar face, but nothing quite distinguished him as an amazing and stand-out actor until now. Playing Pat in “Silver Linings Playbook” has really upped his game to a whole other level. He brings confusion, pain, joy, attitude, and the instability of Pat to life. The scene where he completely loses it over his wedding tape is a standout and Cooper’s acting abilities in that scene are top notch. Cooper even adds little nuances in his body language that strengthen the believability of Pat and what he’s going through.
Jennifer Lawrence balances out Tiffany’s blunt attitude with her wild, insecure, and depressed side. Lawrence is refreshing and a wonderful addition to the film. Anne Hathaway was initially supposed to play Tiffany, but Lawrence gives her a more believable struggling psyche and certain longing sadness which Hathaway may have played differently. The scene where she tells off Pat for mocking her is an excellent display of Lawrence’s acting abilities. She’s also surrounded by top notch actors and doesn’t once seem out of place. Lawrence and Cooper have excellent onscreen chemistry and watching them interact is enjoyable.
Robert De Niro has always been a good actor, but “Silver Linings Playbook” is the first movie in a long time where he really shows his off his skills. It was good to see that De Niro’s still got what it takes. He gives his character, Pat Sr., qualities all parents possess: the denial that their kids aren’t perfect and the struggle to come to terms with the reality of who they really are. Pat Sr. is sometimes difficult and not entirely supportive, but De Niro really expresses these emotions and traits well and shows that he really does care for his son’s well being and supports him even if he doesn’t always share it. “Silver Linings Playbook” is definitely Robert De Niro’s comeback movie.
Jacki Weaver is a welcome addition to the cast. She infuses Pat’s mother, Dolores, with a caring and oftentimes outward struggle of holding her family together. Weaver gives Dolores strength and vital emotion in moments where it seems everything is falling apart.
Chris Tucker’s presence is refreshing to say the very least. His character isn’t overbearing and over the top and Tucker’s funny without trying too hard to be. “Silver Linings Playbook” is the first movie Tucker’s been in since the last “Rush Hour” movie in 2007. For his first journey into another movie that isn’t solely comedy, he does a good job.
The setting is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and David O. Russell uses a lot of indoor and outdoor neighborhood shots. Both these prove to be great choices as they’re simple, yet really hone in on the very normal and family-like atmosphere that surrounds the movie. Also, there is a mention made to one of Bradley Cooper’s previous movies. “Midnight Meat Train,” Cooper’s 2007 horror film, is being shown at a movie theater as Tiffany and Pat walk by.
It’s the little things in this movie that make it feel so true to life. Well told and beautifully made, this film is an instant classic.
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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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