“I’m gonna take all this negativity, and I’m gonna find a silver lining, and that’s the truth,” says Pat Solatano Jr. (Bradley Cooper). He’s promising Dr. Cliff Patel (Anupam Kher), his psychiatrist at a Maryland mental hospital from which Pat, diagnosed bipolar, is being released. He’s completed an eight-month, court-ordered treatment, imposed because of what he calls “The Incident.” He beat up his estranged wife Nikki’s (Brea Bee) boyfriend whom he found in the shower with her. Back home in Philadelphia with his parents (Robert De Niro, Jackie Weaver), Pat hopes to reunite with Nikki through her friend Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young, depressed widow. “You can’t be happy all the time,” she says. “You just do your best.” That’s the setup for this funny, heart-breaking, Oscar-nominated comedy-romance-drama.
Can Pat connect with Nikki despite a restraining order? Can Tiffany convince Pat to be her dancing-competition partner? Can the Eagles defeat the Giants? Can you resist this wonderful (R-rated) flick?
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are excellent, a treat to watch. And they lead a stellar ensemble cast. Cooper is Pat Jr., substitute high school English teacher, whose bipolar disorder complicates his relationships and everything he tries to do. “I just gotta get a strategy, you know?” he says to Lawrence’s Tiffany. “I know,” she says. Tiffany has serious issues of her own. “I give everything to other people,” she says, “but I never get what I want.” Robert De Niro is Pat Sr., who has problems, too. An obsessive Eagles fan, he’s banned from the stadium for fighting. “Don’t drink too much and don’t hit anybody,” he advises his son before the big game. What De Niro wants is a father-son relationship. “Watch the game with me,” he says, “so we can talk and get into things.”
Jackie Weaver is long-suffering Dolores, wife and mother to the Pats, famous for her crabby snacks and homemades. Anupam Kher is Dr. Cliff Patel, patient psychiatrist. Family and friends include Brea Bee, Chris Tucker, Julia Stiles, Paul Herman, Shea Wigham and Dash Mihok — all excellent character actors. No one is a bad guy here.
“Silver Linings Playbook” is a romantic comedy-drama like they don’t make anymore. It’s got characters who like each other and whom we like, great performances, an adult and literate script (although R-rated), and satisfying plot. David O. Russell wrote and directed, screenplay based on Matthew Quick’s novel. If you liked “Crazy, Stupid Love,” you’ll like “Silver Linings.” Nudity and sexual content, it runs 122 minutes.
It’s funny, heart-breaking,
Family, friendship, love,
“Silver Linings Playbook” —
It’s all of the above.