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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Silver Linings Playlbook| Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jackie Weaver, Chris Tucker | Review

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Silver Linings PlayBook

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star as two messed up people that find a connection in director David O. Russel's (The Fighter, I Heart Huckabees,Three Kings) quirky and very entertaining comedy based on Matthew Quick's darkly comedic novel of the same name. The title refers to the belief if you stay positive and work your hardest you have a shot at a silver lining.

When we first meet Pat Solitano (Cooper), he has just been released from a mental institution where he served 8 months as a plea bargain after snapping and nearly killing the man he caught in the shower with his wife.  With the loss of his house, teaching job and wife walking out, Pat is forced to move back into his parents' Philadelphia suburban home where his father, Pat Sr. a bookie (a warm and kooky Robert De Niro) and his mom (Jackie Weaver, Oscar nominee for Animal Kingdom) are helping him get back on his feet and hoping to share their obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles football team.

Undiagnosed as bi-polar and put on meds, Pat is only concerned with getting back together with his estranged wife even though she has filed a restraining order and wants nothing to do with him.  Pat's mental instability is apparent when he refuses to take his meds and an explosive personality is unleashed.

Soon, dinner at a friend's house changes everything when he is introduced to his best friend's sister in law, a young pretty widow, Tiffany (Lawrence),who is an outspoken spitfire that speaks her mind, has her own troubled history and baggage, and like Pat, a bit crazy.  Pat thinks Tiffany is a slut after she openly admits because of depression she slept with every man in her office and then proceeds to make a pass at him.  Although they clash at first, each discover they may be able to help the other.  Pat wants to get a letter to his wife.  Tiffany is friendly with her and will make that happen, if in turn, he agrees to be her partner in a ballroom dance competition.  As their deal plays out, a romantic bond begins to form between the couple allowing for “silver linings” to appear in both of their lives.

Mental illness is nothing to laugh about, but this film tackles the subject in an honest and sympathetic way with the perfect blend of angst and humor, sharp, smart dialogue and relatable, genuine characters brought to life by its excellent cast. Bradley Cooper delivers his most effective, multi layered performance, embodying a man struggling between delusion and sanity. However, Jennifer Lawrence steals the thunder, shining as Tiffany proving role after role that she is one of the best actors of her generation. Lawrence is magnificent, creating a tough taking, yet deeply vulnerable, frightened young woman whose erratic shifts from almost insane behavior to calm and collected are so convincingly conveyed.

There are also a few subplots.  One involves Pat's friend from the looney bin, played by the very funny Chris Tucker, who keeps breaking out of the facility and visits unexpectedly. Another deals with Pat Sr.'s obsession with gambling on the Eagles that leads to a risky bet with his best friend.

I can see why Silver Linings Playbook won the audience choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival.  The romantic comedy drama has everything going for it.  Audiences will laugh, cry and be totally emotionally invested in this offbeat gem, which I highly recommend.  As one of the year's best films, I wouldn't be surprised if Silver Lining and its lead stars are in the running for the golden award come Oscar time.

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