Silver Linings Playbook: A Beautiful Disaster. -Ally Harper

A beautiful disaster. That’s Tiffany and Pat. He’s a bipolar teacher whose mother springs him out of a mental institution too early. She’s a young promiscuous widow. But together, you can’t help but feel a sense of hope. Hope that things will turn out okay.

Based on Matthew Quick’s 2008 novel of the same name, Silver Linings Playbook is exactly what its name describes: it’s a guide that tells us that happily ever after may depend on finding the people who match your craziness instead of the ones who try and bring you out of it.

The film centers on Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), who has an interesting perspective of life: “That is what I believe to be true. You have to do everything you can, you have to work your hardest, and if you stay positive, you have a shot at a silver lining.”

Directed by David O’Russell, who also wrote the screenplay (which took him five years), the film is the first out of three films of O’Russell’s collaboration with Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Tiffany, and Bradley Cooper. As later seen in O’Russell’s American Hustle (2013) and Joy (2015), Cooper and Lawrence’s chemistry in Silver Linings Playbook is undeniable.

After eight months in the psychiatric hospital, Pat returns home to live with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver). He arrives home, and his only goal is to win back his ex-wife. He faces a problem, though: she has moved on and is having an affair with another teacher. And he goes crazy whenever he hears their song “Ma Cherie Amour.” Oh, and he is a little too obsessed with the Philadelphia Eagles.

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But Pat, nevertheless, has a plan, and it begins with a reading list, exercise, and a generally positive attitude. Sounds like a good start, right? When Pat throws a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms through a window because he can’t handle the ending, as it doesn’t correspond with his positive attitude, it becomes clear he still has a lot of work to do if he wants to stick to his plan.

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What Pat doesn’t realize is that his solution is Tiffany. Pat meets Tiffany when another couple have them over for dinner. Tiffany is dealing with her grief over her husband’s death by sleeping with every person in her office, and she proves to be the only person who can help assuage Pat’s violent outbursts.

The second Pat meets Tiffany, he knows there is something about her he needs. Turns out it isn’t something about her at all. It is just her. She promises to help Pat fix things with his wife if he agrees to compete with her in a dancing competition. Insane, right? Not in this playbook.

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As with The Fighter, O’Russell proves that innovative films are not bound by the structure of genre. In Silver Linings Playbook, he takes the predictable romantic comedy and convinces viewers that the film, like its characters, is too insane for a happy ending, or are they?

Silver Linings Playbook never feels like a movie you have seen before. It is not another romantic comedy and it is not predictable. O’Russell flawlessly tackles the issue of mental health while simultaneously delivering a fantastic, uplifting, and surprising ending and that is what makes Silver Linings Playbook so authentic and gratifying.

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15 Responses to Silver Linings Playbook: A Beautiful Disaster. -Ally Harper

  1. mediaphiles says:

    Ally, I am so glad that you chose this movie to write about! I saw it a few years ago and it has been one of my favorite films since. I love the fact that it addresses mental health and provides a unique storyline. Also, I am obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence so any film she is in I always want to see!

    -Allie Kleinman

  2. mediaphiles says:

    Ally – great job. Pointing out how this movie depicts mental illness is super important — really great to see these types of things included in big-budget Hollywood. Of course Lawrence and Cooper are a match made in heaven and their chemistry is truly palpable on screen. Cool review -Alex

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I enjoyed this blog post. One thing that I find really interesting about this movie is the Italian American representations within the film. Pat’s family is uber Italian and it is a different representation than we normally see. A lot of the representations we get are that of mobsters.So it is refreshing to see the strong ties of the family. -Katie N

  4. I loved Jennifer Lawrence in Joy and I think she is wonderful in this as well. Nice job of giving some insight to plot without revealing too many details. I also appreciated your disclaimer at the end, that it is “not another romantic comedy.” It is refreshing to see an authentic spin-off of a rom-com.

  5. Stephanie Albrecht says:

    I love this review. This movie is one of my favorites and is beyond refreshing to watch. It’s nice to see a film that addresses mental illness without having the “hero coming to save the damsel in distress” mentality. Instead, people help themselves by finding people that make them feel whole again via their own issues. I liked your play off of the word “playbook” in your review and how you brought in other times Lawrence and Cooper were paired together. – Steph Albrecht

  6. mediaphiles says:

    Silver Linings Playbook is one of my favorite movies, and the scene where Cooper throws the book out of the window is one of my favorite scenes in cinema– it makes me laugh every time. I love how you touched upon the movies more nuanced portrayal of what its like to live with mental illness. I feel as though this movie really touched upon the highs and lows of mental illness, and did not make the mental illness the central part of Cooper’s character, unlike many other films that deal with mental illness. Overall, great post!

    -Kayla Pierle

  7. mediaphiles says:

    I love your intro — very catchy! Definitely makes me want to keep reading! I also really enjoyed your use of sceenshots because I think they go where you put them very nicely and they also help to move your review along in a captivating manner using digital media!
    Maddie Dickens

  8. mediaphiles says:

    I agree that this film takes “romantic comedy” in a new and refreshing direction. The focus on mental illness, but in an honest way, is refreshing. This is not a “crazy is beautiful” movie in the least. I remember when i first saw it, I was not sure if I would be able to finish it, because after Bradley Cooper’s first breakdown, I was pretty shook up! Definitely not the Bradley Cooper I was too, and all the better for it!
    -A.P. Brothers

  9. mediaphiles says:

    I’ll admit, I started watching this movie but never finished it–but after reading this review, I definitely want to give it another shot! You sell the idea that it is a fresh take on the romantic comedy, and offer a deep discussion on Pat’s tricky character that leaves me intrigued.

    -Meg Schmit

  10. mediaphiles says:

    Although romantic comedies aren’t my favorite genre I like the way you said this is a different and more refreshing version. I think that adds to the review as it makes people like myself fell like I might want to watch the movie. I think the review is very good and very descriptive which makes it an easy read. -Paul McBride

  11. mediaphiles says:

    Really insightful analysis on this movie. I remember seeing this for the first time and being very confused but every time I see it, I understand more and more the impressive screenplay and acting. This was a very different movie than I had seen before and I appreciated it.

    -Samuel Ederle

  12. mediaphiles says:

    I love this movie and your review really reminded me of all the reasons why! I think the characters are amazing, my personal favorite is De Niro as Pat’s father. This movie made me laugh, cry, and cringe at times and our review made me want to experience it all over again.

  13. mediaphiles says:

    This is one of the very rare times when I will say that I loved the film and the book equally. This story presents such raw and real characters who are simply trying to do the best they can in their respective situations. And of course the acting is undeniably great! I definitely want to go back and re-watch this movie after reading your review.- Valerie Medoff

  14. mediaphiles says:

    This is one of my favorite films of all time, and this was as great review. This story hits so many emotions and addresses real life issues like mental health. I completely agree how this picture never seems like you’re watching a movie. Every time I watch it, I feel like it’s for the first time. Great job!
    – Peyton Perea

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