"Silver Linings Playbook", a new drama about two damaged lovers played by Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, opens this week in theaters nationwide. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly magazine filed the following review.
How do you classify a movie that’s about manic depression, football fever, marital breakdown, and ballroom dancing? You could say that "Silver Linings Playbook" is a drama of mental illness posing as the edgiest romantic comedy of the year. Or maybe vice versa.
When we first meet Pat Solitano, played with skittery brilliance by Bradley Cooper, he’s getting out of a mental ward, where he’s just served eight months for punching his wife’s lover. In the old days, he would just have been a dude who lost his cool, but one of the things "Silver Linings Playbook" is about is how in our rigidly regulated era, you can’t declare your anger, or even your passion, too boldly. You may have to go on meds or be put away.
The power of this movie is that Cooper really does make Pat a little off his rocker. He’s a man with bipolar disorder who exists, mostly, in full-tilt manic mode, yet we always see the despair he’s running from. He can’t stop talking, battling, imploring. From the moment Pat moves back in with his family in Philly, he’s so obsessed -- in this case, with getting his wife back -- that he’s wearing his insides on the outside. Then he meets Tiffany, a neighborhood girl with her own unstable back story, played by Jennifer Lawrence with an irresistible neurotic pout. She’s perfect for him, but the whole joke is that he’s too unhinged to see it.
I realize that the prospect of watching these two borderline basket cases slowly draw together, and for a dance contest, no less, makes "Silver Linings Playbook" sound like the latest overly cute nutjob love story. But director David O. Russell, who after "The Fighter" has become a purified filmmaker, weaves a compellingly complicated scenario out of coincidence, family mishegoss, the crazy power of sports gambling, and the way our whole feel-good, self-actualizing culture is perched on the edge of dread.
Cooper’s performance is a revelation, and Robert De Niro, as Pat’s football-mad father, is at his most inspired and controlled.
"Silver Linings Playbook" is an enthralling original, a movie about what it truly means to be lovesick.