Romantic comedy from director David O. Russell (The Fighter) starring Bradley Cooper as a man fresh out of a mental institution, living with his parents and trying to get his life back together. Co-stars Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro and Chris Tucker. In cinemas January 31st.
David O. Russell knows how to introduce likeably flawed characters, slowly wind them all up and simultaneously let them go at the right moments. Perhaps this talent stems from keeping a strong grip on his casts (George Clooney and Lily Tomlin can vouch for that), but it’s a skill he refines with each movie. Silver Linings Playbook is his current apex.
As with The Fighter, every bit of acting juice is squeezed out of the Oscar-loaded ensemble: Bradley Cooper delivers a career best as the bipolar Pat, Jennifer Lawrence parallels her Winter’s Bone performance as widowed Tiffany, Robert De Niro jump-starts his reputation as Pat’s OCD football-bookie father and the fantastic Jacki Weaver continues being so as Pat’s mother (I wish she had more screen time). The quality extends to the smaller roles, from Julia Stiles’ A-grade bitchiness to Chris Tucker’s piston-powered mouth.
Through Pat and Tiffany’s mutual desire to escape the depressive glut of their collapsed marriages, we watch these two jagged souls grind each other's gears while clicking uniquely in place. It’s a relationship balancing act that weighs dialogue-heavy laughs against heart-aching conflict, resulting in a rom-com with a centre of gravity that will draw in nearly anyone. By the end, you cannot bear the thought of these characters not finding their slice of happiness – a rousing testament to Matthew Quick’s material and O. Russell’s care of it.
Silver Linings has signature wit, top-tier performances and a peculiar charm, but the film’s ultimate achievement is how it breaks down its mentally-broken characters to the point of making them so universally relatable – a reminder that ‘sanity’ doesn’t make your flaws any more orderly.