Movie Review: SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012)
When is it too late to see a movie at the theater? Why, never of course!
We’ve gotten so used to seeing movies on their opening weekends, it’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “I don’t want to see it. It’s been out too long. I’ve already heard too much about it.” I say, it’s never too late to see a movie on the big screen.
Take SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012), for example. It was one of those movies which I’d missed- it had fallen through the cracks- but I really did want to see it on the big screen, so I ventured out on a recent Thursday night- the last night the film was scheduled to play in my area- and watched it with one other person sitting in the theater with me.
Was it as an exhilarating experience as catching it in an opening night theater abuzz with a loud and energetic opening night crowd? No, I can’t say that it was. Had I heard more than I wanted about the movie already? Sure. But that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of seeing the film on the big screen.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is a very good movie. And in keeping with the theme that it’s never too late to see a movie on the big screen, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK has as its central theme that it’s never too late in life to go after what you want.
Pat (Bradley Cooper) is released from a stint in a mental institution, ordered there by a court to deal with anger issues after he had found his wife in the shower with a co-worker and beat the co-worker nearly to death. Pat also suffers from bi-polar disorder. He’s taken home by his mother Dolores (Jacki Weaver) where he’ll live temporarily with her and his dad Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro).
He develops a friendship with the quirky sex-addicted Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) but barely notices her because he’s determined to the point of obsession of winning his wife back. But Tiffany is persistent, and when she offers to help Pat get back together with his wife, by delivering a letter to her, which he can’t do since there’s a court order for him to avoid all forms of contact with her, he begins to pay Tiffany attention, and when she convinces him to take part in a dance competition with her, their relationship deepens, to the point where you really want to see them overcome their obstacles and get together.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is a poignant story, often disturbing, sometimes funny, about second chances in life, about seeing the positives in spite of all the negatives, and about connections people make and whether or not these connections can survive the muck of human existence that gets in the way of relationships.
I’ve become a big fan of Bradley Cooper, from his humorous turns in THE HANGOVER movies to more dramatic roles in LIMITLESS (2011). He’s great here once again, making a complicated man like Pat very sympathetic and likeable.
Jennifer Lawrence really does steal the show here as Tiffany, and her Oscar win for Best Actress was well deserved. I really enjoyed her in THE HUNGER GAMES (2012) but she’s so much better here. As Tiffany, she delivers a powerhouse performance, creating a woman who’s explosive, volatile, and strong, one who is able to cut through all the distractions and problems in Pat’s world and make him pay attention. You’ll be paying attention too.
Robert De Niro, as the OCD suffering Pat Sr., delivers one of his most satisfying performances in years. He cares deeply for his son, yet he can’t seem to do right by him, as he’s constantly losing his patience around him. Yet De Niro is very likeable as Pat Sr., and enjoys a key scene late in the game where he finally says the right thing at the right time.
Jacki Weaver is also memorable as Dolores, and Chris Tucker shines in a supporting role as Danny, Pat’s friend from the institution who keeps showing up at Pat’s door saying he’s been allowed out when he’s really escaped. Anupam Kher is also a hoot as Dr. Cliff Patel, Pat’s therapist.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK was written and directed by David O. Russell, and his screenplay was based on the novel by Matthew Quick. The fact that it’s based on a novel comes as no surprise because this one plays like a novel, with deep, rich characters who are more complicated and fleshed out than your typical movie character.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is a thoroughly satisfying movie from start to finish. It has great acting and a thought-provoking emotional story that grabs you from the outset and takes you along for an entertaining ride. I’ve heard many people grumble that it shouldn’t have been up for Best Picture, but I’m glad it was nominated.
I enjoyed its story about characters who really have to work hard to succeed in their relationships. These folks all have baggage, hang-ups, and difficulties. They strive for happiness and they struggle to treat those around them, family and friends, the way they want to. They want to treat them well, but more often than not, they don’t. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK presents us with characters like ourselves, stuck in struggles we often feel powerless to overcome, yet always with the desire to make connections with others and to do right by those we know and care for.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is a movie that tells the truth about flawed people and their relationships. Yet it’s not a downer by any means. Sure, there are parts that are painful to watch, but for the most part, the humor works to offset the hopelessness.
We root for these folks, and we want to see them succeed even though we know the road to happiness is paved with pain and uncertainty. Anything less would just be a silver lining.