The Silver Linings Playbook (M)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/11/2012

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 117 mins

Impressively directed and superbly written, this is a hugely enjoyable, warm-hearted romantic comedy-drama with a refreshing honesty towards its subject matter and a pair of terrific performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

What's it all about?
Directed by David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook is adapted from the novel by Matthew Quick and stars Bradley Cooper as former teacher Pat Solitano, who comes back to live with his parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro) after being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and spending eight months in a mental institution as a result of a violent incident involving his ex-wife (Brea Bee). Though he accepts the reality of his condition, Pat refuses to face up to the fact that his marriage is over and dedicates himself to winning his ex-wife back, despite the fact that she has a restraining order out against him.

When Pat's friends Veronica and Ronny (Julia Stiles and John Ortiz) try to help him by setting him up with Veronica's equally troubled sister Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), he's initially less than keen, especially when she keeps chasing after him on his morning runs. However, Tiffany eventually catches Pat and makes him an offer he can't refuse, proposing that she'll act as an intermediary between him and his ex-wife, if he'll partner her in an upcoming dance contest.

The Good
Bradley Cooper delivers his best performance to date as Pat, sparking palpable chemistry with Lawrence and resisting the urge to overplay the mental illness either for comedy or pathos; the result is a refreshingly honest portrayal that's both convincing and emotionally engaging. Lawrence, in turn, is as sensational as always and you can't take your eyes off her; there's a fiery resilience combined with a yearning, under-the-surface warmth to her character that is fascinating to watch.

On top of that, De Niro turns in his best performance in a long, long time as superstitious gambler Pat Senior and there's superb support from both Jacki Weaver and Shea Whigham as Pat's relatively successful older brother. Even the usually annoying Chris Tucker manages to reign in his usual screen persona, though thankfully he isn't around for most of the film.

The Great
Russell's direction strikes exactly the right tone, skilfully balancing both humour and emotion throughout while generating tension through edgy unpredictability. In addition, the script is frequently very funny, mining big laughs from unexpected moments, though it's also careful to have the dance routine pay off too, even if the film isn't quite the dance contest-centred romcom the trailers would have you believe.

Worth seeing?
Silver Linings Playbook is a hugely enjoyable romantic comedy-drama that's both laugh-out-loud funny and genuinely moving, thanks to a strong script, assured direction and a pair of excellent performances that are sure to pick up awards attention for Cooper and Lawrence come Oscar time. Highly recommended.

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The Silver Linings Playbook (M)
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Content updated: 29/02/2020 20:52

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