Silver Linings Playbook

This is a hilarious romantic comedy that’s also a smart family drama by the director of The Fighter (2010). As the winner of the People’s Choice Award at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), it’s a huge crowd pleaser and continues to win awards. In fact, at the packed house theater where I saw it recently it was very enthusiastically received. 

A young married man struggling with bipolar disorder, Pat Solatano, from a loud family of Philadelphia Eagles fans, spends eight months in a psychiatric facility following a violent attack on his wife’s lover when he walked in on them having sex in their home. When the film starts he’s just being released and determined to be more positive and repair his relationship with his wife by proving that he’s a new person, except that everyone in town now think he’s crazy and he can’t go near his wife due to a restraining order. 

Although the movie does have some formulaic story elements, what makes this particular comedy unique is that it brings together the passionate world of fanatical football fans, and the graceful world of ballroom dancing, which somehow collide in a spectacularly funny but emotional climax. This clash of masculine and feminine sports makes this movie appealing to both men and women, and there are not many films you can say that about. 

Having lost his job and house, Pat must move back in with his parents who are disappointed but supportive and try to make every effort to help him with his anger issues while he sorts out his life. Much of the humor comes out of the family dynamic as Pat adjusts to living with his eccentric parents while trying to stay positive. 

There is quite a bit of manipulation going on in the film that we the audience are not aware of until close to the end, which makes the climax even more of a surprise and has you wondering what just happened but we are having so much fun that we don’t feel cheated. It’s a bit like The Sixth Sense (1999) in the sense that part of the fun is the sudden discovery of who has been manipulating who. 

When he meets a beautiful young woman, Tiffany, with problems of her own dealing with the death of her husband, they have an immediate connection as far as their experiences overcoming a recent tragedy.  She offers to help him get a message to his wife if he agrees to help her get into a dance contest. 

There are many family dysfunctional issues touched upon that all ring very true to life and the same can also be said of the terrific performances by the ensemble cast. The chemistry between Pat and Tiffany, played by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, in situations that many of us can relate to, makes us care and cheer for them throughout the film. 

With the hope of communicating with his wife, Pat agrees to help Tiffany and ends up spending a lot of time getting to know intimate details about her and vice versa, but when his demanding family gets in the way of his commitment to helping Tiffany, things come to a head with surprising revelations that set the stage for the suspenseful climax. 

This film also reminded me a bit of Lars and the Real Girl (2007), which I highly recommend, where with the help of a psychiatrist and the small community he lives in, a young man eventually overcomes deep psychological issues. Similarly, Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful feel-good film you won’t regret seeing. 



Jon Jefferson said...

There is a good chance I would have done the same thing he did. The real question is, how do you respond when you walk in on your wife and her lover?

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Lynette said...

Great review! I've heard some good things about this movie so I hope to be able to check it out soon.

Kelly Wade said...

I've heard this movie was awesome but thought that the previews kind of looked dull compared to other movies that are out right now (recently saw This is 40 and Django). But after hearing the breakdown of the plot it sounds much more interesting than I initially thought. Not to mention Bradley Cooper and Jessica Lawrence are both pretty easy on the eyes.

JeriWB said...

I saw this movie a couple of weeks ago. The acting is superb on all counts, and the plot is believable. It's a very human story. Plus, it gives people an idea of what its like to be bipolar, and the public could stand to be more informed about the many forms of mental illness.

Jennifer said...

I never heard of this film, although I have admit that I am not much of a film or television watcher, it sounds interesting, especially the combination of sports and ball room dancing. I will have to keep my eye out for it.


Claire Cappetta said...

I agree with Kelly Wade , the trailers looked rather dull. But after reading your review I think I might give it a chance now.
Thank you! :-)

JP said...

This movie just got nominated for 8 Academy Awards. It's a pretty safe bet you won't be disappointed if you give it a chance.

Let me know what you think once you've seen the movie.

gilangbiantara2 said...

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city said...

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Anonymous said...

Loved this one. I would agree it's a real feel-good film, but it does have more substance than most feel-good films, I think. I would put this in my top 10, easily.