Silver Linings Playbook

9 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Cast: 10/10
Appeal: 9/10

It's the most honest, raw, and emotionally heartfelt movie of the year.

Some plot elements come off as a bit too simple and stale.

Mental health is an important issue that often gets misinterpreted or misunderstood by both the media and the public. With psychological disorders becoming a threat to both the safety of others and the happiness of those suffering from them, it’s becoming a problem that lacks sympathy or understanding. Silver Linings Playbook is a movie that came at the perfect time. In the midst of several mass shootings, a national debate about mental health, and most of all, the end of a great NFL season, this film succeeds with a triumphant mindset and a genuine tone. This is a movie that will be reflected upon with astonishment, and that’s because it’s the most honest, heartfelt, and introspective examination of family, romance, and mental health to come around in a long time.

Silver Linings tells the story of Pat, played by Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, Limitless), a former teacher who has just been released from a mental health center after an eight month stay. Cooper struggles with bipolar disorder, a disorder that causes major eruptions of anger and distress. His goal is to reconnect with his ex-wife, who cheated on him with another teacher from his school. The problem: because of his mental health struggles, his wife signed a restraining order against him. But Cooper is determined. He reads through his ex-wife’s entire literary stack, goes out and runs every day to get back into shape, and tries to focus on the positives of his situations. Despite a broken relationship with his father (a hardcore Philadelphia Eagles fan), his ex-wife, and his struggle to overcome bipolar disorder, he tries to find the “silver linings” of his current life. When he meets Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone, The Hunger Games), everything changes.

Now, this storyline doesn’t always work. It’s simple, it’s often stale, and it’s poised for flaws. But Silver Linings approaches this type of movie the right way. Though there are obvious flaws within the plot and many of the characters’ actions, they don’t get in the way of the greatness of this film. And the main reason why this movie is so great is because director David O. Russell just gets his audience. He approaches an issue – in this case, mental health and romantic contingency – and gives an authentic, accurate, and honest representation through Pat’s character, and builds impressive relationships between him and his father, played by Robert De Niro (Limitless, Meet The Parents), and more importantly, Lawrence. Because of the extensive character development and approach to real-life relationships and struggles, this film seems more like a reflection of its audience than anything. Nothing feels too light or distracting, and instead, I see a little bit of everyone I know in the characters of this movie. Silver Linings is 100% relatable, and for a director to get that right is astonishing.

While the cast is stunning and the heartfelt atmosphere is just as impressive, one of the reasons why Silver Linings doesn’t weaken beneath cliches is because its dominance comes from uniquity and incredible writing. What could be expected to be a predictable romance-meets-drama-meets-comedy is fresh, substantive, and brazen. The jokes don’t take advantage of the characters or the tone of the film, the relationships don’t fall for typicality or blandness, and most of all, the movie is full of touching moments. Unlike this year’s Philadelphia Eagles, who were bent and broken by opponents all year long, Silver Linings stands strong because it has a big heart, a big mind, and a big soul.

The film’s cast is incredible, and apart from great performances from Cooper, Lawrence, and De Niro, Chris Tucker (Jackie Brown, The Fifth Element) and Julia Stiles (The Bourne Ultimatum, The Omen) also play superb roles. The main reason why the cast is so great is because they portray characters who feel real because they can be seen as imperfect, just like ourselves. But their pursuit of perfection and connection is what is particularly striking. I found myself rooting for Cooper and Lawrence the entire way, and I don’t usually feel that way with romances – especially since some of my favorite romance movies end with a break-up. In addition to its honesty, the emotional density of this film allows its audience to grasp it firmly. While there is a ton of arguing and a lot of struggle between the film’s characters, the moments where things click are something special. Silver Linings is topped by a layer of optimism that gives it strong appeal, and I love that about a film. The struggles here lead to something, and the hopeful overtones give it a sense of beauty.

Silver Linings Playbook deserved every Academy Awards nomination it received, and I’m pulling for the film to win Best Picture and Cooper to win Best Lead Actor. It’s easily one of the best movies of 2012, and it ended the year on a great note at that. With very little shortcomings and an overload of honesty, heart, and emotion, Silver Linings is a film that I’m sure I’ll be coming back to again and again. This is a movie that everyone can and should be proud of, because it represents humanity firmly, and depicts our ups-and-downs without getting to greedy in its goal of sucking in the audience. Rather than being entertainment, Silver Linings Playbook is something more. It’s real.

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Author: Tim Dodderidge View all posts by
I'm a student at the University of Kansas hoping to major in journalism. I love Christopher Nolan films, eating at Taco Bell, and playing indoor soccer. I also like to watch How I Met Your Mother and enjoy writing poetry.

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