What do you get when you cross an estranged, bi-polar mental case with a depressed, lonely widow? The answer is definitely more than your average romantic comedy. In David O. Russell's first feature since 2010's dynamite drama, The Fighter, audiences will be treated to what a romantic comedy should be. Silver Linings Playbook tells the story of Pat, a man who has recently been released from a mental institution following an assault charge. Pat is now a diagnosed bi-polar patient and has to see a counselor and take prescribed medication. Pat's goals are simply to win back his wife and reassert himself into his former life. The plot thickens when Pat meets Tiffany whose husband has recently died. Tiffany struggles with loneliness and depression, finding less than socially flattering ways to cope, eventually resulting in her being fired from her job. Together Pat and Tiffany explore what it means to find the silver lining of tough scenarios.
I should be fair and say that Silver Lining's is not quite a romantic comedy. It's an R rated film with a good amount of drama throughout, but the romance and the comedy are certainly there. After being nominated for 8 Academy Awards and winning a Golden Globe, SLP has received a lot of attention. I can't say enough about the acting in the movie. The usually slick and sarcastic Bradley Cooper is fantastic as Pat, leaving the viewer genuinely distraught over his struggles. Jennifer Lawrence, fresh off her spotlight role as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, shows off her acting prowess as the troubled Tiffany. In my opinion, she is the strongest of the actors in the film. That is saying something, given Robert De Niro plays Pat Sr., a Philadelphia Eagles fanatic who is OCD to the max.
Acting aside, what makes SLP so solid is its script. Instead of sugar coating life's harsh realities like most other movies in the genre, Russell shows us real, hurting characters searching for a light in the darkness. The extremes they go to in attempting to find their way out of their personal pits are honest snapshots of the struggles of humanity. On screen this gives the actors the opportunity to play their roles with conviction, leaving the audience moved and committed to the cause.
As with most of my reviews, I can't say that you MUST go to the theater and see this movie; but you must see this movie soon. It's not a spectacle in a visual way, but it is a spectacle of great storytelling. It has a little something for everyone: drama, comedy, romance, and even sports. SLP deserves the hype, and it's crazy good.