Robyn Morrison reviews Silver Linings Playbook, the romantic comedy with a difference
Based on the debut novel from Matthew Quick, Silver Linings Playbook is a quirky film about mental illness with a surprisingly feel-good edge. Directed by David O. Russell, whose last film The Fighter was an Oscar winning success, the story centres on Pat Solitano, a history teacher who struggles with a bipolar disorder triggered by the breakdown of his marriage.
After eight months spent in a mental hospital, subsequent to the discovery of his wife’s affair, Pat (Bradley Cooper) moves in with his dysfunctional parents and begins plotting a marital reunion. Unaware that his former spouse has already taken out a restraining order against him, Pat is delusional in his attempts to win his wife back, which include reading books she teaches to her students and sweating into shape by jogging in a bin liner.
Pat struggles to recover from his psychological demons under the roof of his obsessive-compulsive father, Pat Snr (Robert De Niro) and his permanently anxious mother, Dolores (Jacki Weaver). However, his life soon changes when he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a widow who is as unstable and as troubled as he is.
A bond forms between them when Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife on the condition that he helps her in return. So, with false hope that it will help rekindle his wife’s affections, Pat agrees to partner with the fearsome Tiffany in a dance competition. The title of the film reflects both Pat’s mantra and the message throughout that, despite life not always going to plan, positivity can always be found.
After winning the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, this is a feel-good film with a sprinkling of comedy, guaranteed to leave audiences feeling optimistic. Laugh-out-loud funny in parts and heartbreaking in others, Silver Linings Playbook perfectly balances the topic of mental illness to produce a genuine and emotional film, which raises the bar for romantic comedy.