For someone who doesn’t normally like romantic comedies I surprised myself by how much I actually enjoyed Silver Linings Playbook. In choosing to see it, I was putting my reservations to the side and pinned my hopes on credible performances from fresh Hollywood talent and an interesting portrayal of mental illness. It was worth the punt.
Bradley Cooper plays Pat who’s had a stint in a mental institute for his bipolar disorder, a condition which has cost him his job and his marriage. He returns home and sets out on a misguided attempt to get back with his wife.
If it weren’t for the excellent script, the film might not be as enjoyable; there isn’t a line out of place. Dialogue between Pat and Jennifer Lawrence’s character -Tiffany are assertive, punchy and gutsy. The arguments, fight scenes and other violent meltdowns carry as much tension as any high speed action stunt, maybe more so because they fit the human drama.
I particularly enjoyed the family scenes characterised by a volley of quick-fire rows between father and son. The parents are likeable characters, full of angst and chutzpah. Pat’s father played by De Niro has his quirky little foibles and superstitions and Jacki Weaver holds a facial expression scrunched by unstinting motherly concern throughout.
The soundtrack is just on the right side of poignant and the twist at the end comes as a nice surprise.
Some critics call it cute and undeserving of an Oscar particularly they jest for having a dance competition as the finale. I wouldn’t be so academic. (We’ll see what happens at the Oscars tonight). The clincher for me is the film’s honest portrayal of the guilt, regret and agonising conflicts that can colour mental illness. The author of the book on which the screenplay is based – Matthew Quick – admits it was largely based on his own experience of depression and this shines through as clear as a silver lining. Excelsior!