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.
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.
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.
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.