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"Silver Linings Playbook" Is Humorous And Heartfelt

Sarah Mickelson |
November 22, 2012 | 2:24 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Lawrence's and Cooper's comedic skill and obvious chemistry make this film one to watch. (The Weinstein Company)
Lawrence's and Cooper's comedic skill and obvious chemistry make this film one to watch. (The Weinstein Company)
"Silver Linings Playbook" (in theaters now) stars Bradley Cooper as a man struggling to re-adjust after being committed to a mental institution for bipolar disorder. The movie takes place just as Cooper’s character, Pat, moves back in with his parents and begins a mission to reconcile with his wife, who happens to have a restraining order against him.

Before watching, the movie’s title is a bit unclear. While it’s easy to understand the reference to “silver linings” because Pat is trying to pick himself up after hitting rock bottom, the word “playbook” was confusing until the audience sees the large role football plays in the story’s plot. See, Pat’s father, played by Robert DeNiro, is a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan and DeNiro’s character finds he only knows how to bond with his son by watching the games together. DeNiro does an excellent job of portraying a father who blames himself for his son’s misfortunes. This is one of the most sincere, endearing performance DeNiro has yet to play.

My greatest praise lies in the screenwriter’s ability to let the audience feel the same emotional ups and downs as frequently as Pat does. While most movies gradually work their way up towards the climax, this movie evokes emotions ranging from happy to sad as quickly and jaggedly as the teeth of a saw. These emotional peaks and valleys work because as the movie explores bipolar disorder, the audience is able to experience the character’s mood swings at the same time. Be warned though, this emotional fluctuation is likely to cause audiences to walk out emotionally drained. This isn’t a bad thing—it merely demonstrates that the movie effectively invested viewers in its characters.

Even though the movie appears to be a romantic drama from the trailers, it was quite a bit funnier than expected. Cooper and his love interest, played by the talented Jennifer Lawrence, work well together and humor seems to come naturally to them. Bradley’s most notable comedic prowess occurs in a scene where he finishes reading Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms and gets so disappointed with the ending that he literally throws it out the window, breaking the glass. He then goes on a rant questioning why anyone would make students read a novel as depressing as this and his voice seems to echo the laments of every high school student in America.  

My only criticism is that while I was convinced that Jennifer Lawrence’s character fell for Cooper’s, the movie spent so much time detailing Cooper’s attempts to win his wife back that I found Cooper’s sudden love for Lawrence at the end to be a bit unbelievable. Viewers didn’t get a chance to see him truly falling for her. In any case, Lawrence steals the show by showcasing her surprising range. It turns out she can do more than shoot arrows and skin squirrels.

"Silver Linings Playbook" serves as proof that lower budget movies can still make a big impression, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie and its actors are contenders this coming awards season.

Reach Staff Reporter Sarah Mickelson here.



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