Since the dawn of film, we’ve been inundated by countless romantic comedies. Most of the time, we’re forced to watch conventional couples come together, but occasionally a movie will tweak the formula by featuring lovers with strange quirks. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ applies an additional spin on that, and may be one of the most refreshing films in this burned-out genre.
I’ve loved David O. Russell since 1999, when the director won me over with ‘Three Kings‘. I returned to that movie for repeat viewings, even when it meant sitting in an empty matinee showing all by myself. The only thing better than his follow-up film ‘I Heart Huckabees’ was ‘The Fighter‘. Now, he’s impressed me in an entirely different way with ‘Silver Linings Playbook’.
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence take their unconventional couples to the far side of the spectrum. Cooper plays Pat, a once-married man who literally lost his mind after he caught his wife cheating on him. As the film opens, Pat is prematurely released from a court-mandated stint in a mental institution. The words “neurotic” and “oblivious” barely begin to describe him. When an idea enters Pat’s mind, he shuts out the world and must act on it, even if it means cruelly destroying the people that he loves. The only person in his world worth caring about is himself; everyone else is just there to aid him in getting what he obsesses over.
Lawrence plays Tiffany, a recently widowed, down-and-out young woman whose mind has fallen apart in the wake of her husband’s death. She’s aggressive and incorrigible. Like Pat, she numbs herself on prescription drugs. Shortly into the film, Pat and Tiffany’s mutual friends set them up on a dinner date. Even though the results are disastrous, these two outsiders make a mutual connection while using each another to get something else. Their train wreck compatibility is so entertaining to watch that I didn’t want the film to end. Since both characters are literally crazy, I couldn’t tell what would come next.
We all know that Jennifer Lawrence can act by now, so to say that she gives another brilliant performance shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. But it’s Bradley Cooper who caught me off-guard here. Along with a supporting cast that includes Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker (yes, Chris Tucker!), there isn’t a bad performance in the film.
If you and your significant other need a breath of crazy-romantic fresh air, look no further. Even with just a few more promising titles left to screen this year, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ has landed a spot in my Top 10 of 2012.