Never before have I watched mentally unstable people with such joy and concentration as I did in “Silver Linings Playbook.” David O. Russell has crafted a modern-day comedic triumph that focused solely on character interaction with humility, humor and heart. Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to say this was a romantic comedy without a tasteless sex joke in sight.
Pat (Bradley Cooper) was a man on a paranoia-laced, self-improvement binge to win back his ex-wife—whom he caught with another man—after being released from a mental institution. He was forced to live with his passive mother (Jackie Weaver) and equally paranoid, OCD father (Robert De Niro), who lived off gambling on Philadelphia Eagles’ games. Safe to say, soon after being introduced to him, we see where Pat gets his neurotic and bipolar behavior.
Soon he met Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) and, in exchange for her courier services to his ex-wife, agreed to be her partner in a dance competition. She also had what would appear to be behaviorial issues, but she embraced it with such confidence and sex appeal it came off as eccentric and free-spirited. Tiffany appeared this way because she owned it; Pat seemed crazy because he lived in denial and hoped for the past to become the future.
Like any romantic comedy, the plot was straightforward and was all about finding that certain something that makes life fit into place. What made the film such a marvel was how all the characters found a place among one another and benefited either opposing contrasts or similarities. Some of the most powerful dramatic moments came from Pat’s spats (word play!) with his father, and the comedy and heart originated from his and Tiffany’s encounters that took the “they’re-perfect-together-but-he-doesn’t-see-it” element to a unique level.
All was driven by the behavioral issues that either drove or fueled them in a psychological-family drama-romantic comedy and was made all the more perfect by the flawless performances by the actors. This was some of the best work in years by veteran De Niro and the best by newcomers Cooper and Lawrence.
Was this movie pushing the boundaries of comedy? Probably not. Was it incredibly well-made and thought out to perfection? Absolutely. Everybody deserves happiness even if what they think is happy for a while is nothing but delusion. Plus, who wouldn’t want Chris Tucker as your friend?