So the Oscars are coming up and it is my favorite award show of the year. It was the Golden Globes, for the 3 years that Ricky Gervais hosted by now it’s back to being the Oscars. The Silver Linings Playbook is my favorite film among all the Oscar Nominees and I hope it wins all 8 of the awards it has been nominated for. I’m not stupid enough to think it will so in particular, I hope it wins best adapted screenplay for David O’Russell and best actress for Jennifer Lawrence.
Based on a novel by Matthew Quick and adapted and directed by David O Russell, The Silver Linings Playbook tells the story of Patrick (Bradley Cooper), a man who has just been released from a mental hospital after a traumatic episode nine months earlier. Diagnosed with bipolar at 37, Pat is placed in hospital by order of the courts. His mother played by Jackie Weaver has come to pick him up against the hospitals wishes but Pat has served his time and now he is determined to put his life back together again. He is in a hyper state of affirmation and is not taking his medication but he has one major goal, to get his wife back.
His time at home is fraught with problems, particularly with his father(Robert De Niro) who loves him dearly but is suffering from border line OCD. Pat can see the illness in his father more clearly now and doesn’t want to participate in his superstitions. It is into this melting pot of dysfunction that Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) enters . Tiffany meets Pat in a strange sort of setup and it is obvious that they are kindred spirits. Tiffany is suffering from her own issues. Her husband has recently died and she is a recovering sex addict among other things. Pat and Tiffany are both just as socially inappropriate and frank as each other and are strangely a good fit, but Pat will have none of it since he wants to get back with is wife. So they become friends and Tiffany offers to help him contact his wife, a prize for which she requires a reward, his help in a ballroom dancing competition. And so the romantic comedy premise is made.
The thing about this film that makes it so special is it’s authenticity. The realness of the characters and their relationships makes this film, a total anathema to the sugary style of average rom coms like some of Cooper’s earlier films e.g. Valentines Day. The accuracy and humor brought to the different characters mental afflictions is staggering and the performances don’t disappoint. Bradley Cooper shows an acting ability here, that I wasn’t sure he had. His mile a minute speak, his mental and physical struggle and his blossoming love all feel natural and empathetic. He hits it out of the park.
Jennifer Lawrence is even better. She is so real in this character that I actually thought it was her. The story is told from Pat’s perspective but she has you on her side in every scene. You want him to be with her because you’re in love with her. She yells, screams, she’s unstable, she calls Pat of his crap and she is doing everything she can to change her patterns and because she sees the potential in Pat so do we. She deserves an Academy Award at 22 and I will fight any one who says different.
This film is beautifully written, it sees the comedy in the absurd and tragic. It examines the crazy in all of us and never talks down. It talks to an audience about real life with mental illness. Never turning the story into horror film or a grueling drama which is where most audiences have previously encountered this subject matter.
This film loves it characters, Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro are vivid and engaging as Pat’s parents who are trying to navigate a situation they don’t fully understand. They love their son and will do anything for him even if they never get it right. Chris Tucker is also hilarious as Pat’s friend who keeps trying to escape the hospital.
I can’t stop thinking about this film and I am so jealous of everyone that got to be a part of it. See it now, you’ll thank me.