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Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

March 14, 2013

silver-linings-posterOver twenty years since the advent of Prozac in 1987, mental illness disability rates have doubled. According to the CDC, 1 in every 4 persons is diagnosed with a mental disorder but 1 in 2 will develop at least one by the time they are adults… let’s go on and prepare ourselves for that eventuality 1’s. The cause for the high rise in mental illnesses is unknown. My theory is that human beings have inadvertently poisoned ourselves through technology and pollution, but it could be something as simple as now having the knowledge to discover and treat a plague that has always infected mankind. Either way, mental illness is not a new phenomena to the human race, nor to the silver screen. Drops in the puddle of films that have visited the topic is Girl Interrupted, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Manic, and now, the Oscar nominated Silver Linings Playbook.

I was ify about seeing Silver Linings Playbook considering Bradley Cooper just isn’t my cup of tea. Having only seen him play unlikable douchebags on screen, on top of being rather perturbed at his real-life, arrogant face receiving the title of Sexiest Man Alive against the golden god of actors, Ryan Gosling, Cooper’s never done a role that made me think, “this guy is good.” That is until Silver Linings Playbook. Cooper plays Pat, an ex-substitute teacher married to Nikki (Brea Bee), a high school literature teacher. Pat is diagnosed with having bipolar disorder and shortly after discovers his wife in the act of infidelity. Pat goes ballistic, beating the man within an inch of his life, only to then be forced into a plea bargain that lands him in a psychiatric ward for eight months. Silver Linings Playbook picks up with his release and further attempts to become readjusted into society, despite the social stigma wavering over his head. Determined to salvage his marriage with Nikki, Pat does everything in his power to stay positive and prove to his wife he’s an improved, better man despite distractions from his home life as well as a neighbor and mutual friend of Nikki’s, Tiffany, a widowed, recovering sex addict.

Cooper is absolutely phenomenal as Pat. It’s almost robbery that he didn’t win an Academy Award for his stellar performance, but when you’re up against Daniel Day Lewis what can you do? Cooper perfectly captures the opposing manias of bipolar disorder allowing audiences to understand what events set him off into an aggressive fit of rage or blissful rain of joy. In one scene, he reads Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms to better connect with his wife’s interests, but after devoting endless hours to reading it, he finishes, slamming the book closed with a resounding “what the fuck?” and chucks it out a window. In his manic haze, he wakes his parents at 4am to rant about how ridiculous and depressing of a story it was. When Pat is on an emotional high, you’re right there with him giggling like a jolly schoolgirl, but when he’s at a manic low and relapses, you can’t help but feel your heart drop. However, Cooper isn’t the only shining crown in the film. The entire cast polishes their skills with remarkable performances from Robert De Niro as Pat Sr., Pat’s confrontational, superstitious father, to Chris Tucker as the mentally unhinged Danny who meets Pat in the psychiatric ward, to Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany, the brash, angry, open-book who immediately falls for Pat upon first meeting him.

Now, just because Silver Linings Playbook is impressive doesn’t mean it’s gold. The weakest element is the main plot, the overarching love story between Pat and Tiffany. The two immediately spark each other’s interests upon first meeting, but the film never divulges into why beyond simple sexual chemistry. Sure, the two share personal neuroses and a common experimentation with an array of pharmaceuticals; they even dabble in conversation about what their damage is and how they’ve come to individually deal with it, but that’s pretty much it.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

As they train for a dance competition that’s a favor to Tiffany, there are no moments of true bonding between the two. We see through montage how they grow more in sync dancing together and closer to finally doing the horizontal polka, but there are no moments of bonding, or sharing a smile or laugh together, nor getting to know each others quirks or personality, making it difficult to truly root for their relationship and not for Pat and Nikki instead. I was unsure why Tiffany was so enthralled by Pat when all he does is talk about his wife and rudely remind Tiffany that her spouse is dead through most of their awkward conversations.

Thus, leading to my least favorite aspect of the film, Tiffany. Her domineering personality and wild, selfish behavior are characteristics that I despise in a person and with little insight as to why she’s the way she is, two hours of watching her interact with others is a difficult task. Regardless Silver Linings Playbook is an enjoyable film. It’s humorously heartfelt and features an oddball cast of characters. It’s not Best Picture material, but with its strong performances and well rounded cast, I can see why it has been regarded so highly.

SEE IT. And be glad that Chris Tucker is back in our lives.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. K-chan permalink
    March 29, 2013 6:38 PM

    Definitely some good acting, and I thoroughly enjoyed Jennifer Lawrence’s version of the Manic Pixie Dreamgirl (my jaw dropped when I realized what her character kind of was…she is such a gifted actress). but this WILL NOT be her best performance. It already isn’t her best performance. That was in Winter’s Bone. All of the nominations for this film are the result of Harvey Weinstein distributing sexual favors around Hollywood.

    • March 29, 2013 8:10 PM

      I have yet to see Winter’s Bone but I really like Jennifer Lawrence as an actress so I need to check it out. And to the Harvey Weinstein comment, YES! Hahaha I’m glad someone else knows it!

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