SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (David O. Russell, 2012)
Crazy is just a state of mind, at least that's what SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK tells us. A superstitious father who believes that his favorite football team lost because his son wasn't present during the game may be considered crazy; a guy who runs around town wearing a black garbage bag, and who cannot recover from his wife's adultery in most communities will be referred to as crazy; a married woman, who has a hot husband and cheats with the unattractive co-worker is definitely crazy.
David O. Russell spins us all for a humorous and often emotional journey of family, loss, and finding joy in the smallest things. As the title suggests, the story is concerned with finding the "silver lining" in every opportunity, as if a playbook exists-like one that would be used in professional sports, like football. But the catch is, there's no playbook at all. You learn through your mistakes, and hopefully you get to pay importance to essential things in front of you before they walk away forever.
Bradley Cooper is the film's center of attention. As the clinically-diagnosed bipolar Pat Solitano Jr., Cooper plays the part of a man who endlessly obsesses about getting back with his wife despite a restraining order, maintaining to be obnoxiously optimistic while the results of his actions toward that one single goal turns to kaput.
What Pat didn't plan on was the arrival of the beautiful but bizarre Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who is recovering from the death of her husband, but oddly enough between the two of them, Tiffany stands out as the sane one. She helps Pat get back on his feet even if she gets used and abused in the process.
In fact, a lot of bone are thrown in Pat's way, and the film gets to that realization in the end that the guy should realize what a complete ass he was, and that a moral redemption is to be expected. Somewhat contrived, bordering on being a generic romcom, yet SILVER LININGS is somewhat saved by the honesty of the confrontational scenes, between Pat and Tiffany in numerous occasion, and most especially between Pat Jr. and Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro). In fact, De Niro is terrific in this movie, partnered with an always charming Jacki Weaver as Dolores, the household matriarch, the chemistry is solid. A lot can be desired from Cooper and Lawrence's tandem, but Lawrence as it is delivers her finest performance possible. Her character is so heaven sent (despite the occasional outbursts) any man would be lucky to have her. Imagine after all that trouble Pat gave her, and she still wants him?
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is charming and poignant for most parts, and in one particular scene (the dance competition) it is side-splitting, too. However, I don't quite buy its portrayal of psychological disorder as personified by Bradley Cooper. Pat Jr. is overdrawn and overacted, and we are still no closer to understanding what bipolar disorder is. Tiffany, I will more likely believe as a recovering sex addict.