“Silver Linings Playbook”

The thoroughly engaging, 122 minute film, “Silver Linings Playbook,which is a skillful mix of comedy, drama, and romance, premiered on September 8, 2012 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Made for a budget of approximately twenty-one million dollars, the movie would go onto gross close to one-hundred and thirty-two million, and win, amongst numerous other awards, the AFI (American Film Institute) Award for movie of the Year, the BAFTA (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts) for best adapted screenplay, and earn Jennifer Lawrence a well deserved Oscar for Best Actress.

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I started watching the movie not knowing much about the film, with the exception of its cast and director. I have seen almost every movie that Academy Award winning actor Robert De Niro (Goodfellas) has appeared in, and count a number of them amongst my favorite films of all time. I enjoyed Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Mystique in “X-Men: First Class,” and, for that matter, think she does a more than competent job in every role she takes on. Bradley Cooper, I have known about since he portrayed the character of journalist Will Tippin on “Alias,” which ran on ABC television from 2001-2006. I remembered actress Jacki Weaver from the 2010 Australian film “Animal Kingdom,” and Chris Tucker from the “Rush Hour” movies. Director and screenwriter David O. Russell, I knew from his Oscar nominated film “The Fighter.” I had never read the book, “Silver Linings Playbook,” written by Matthew Quick, on which the movie was based, nor had I seen a trailer for the film, so I was basically going in cold. As I waited for the movie to begin, I wondered if I would  like it. It didn’t take long for me to answer that question; and the answer was a resounding ‘yes.’

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Pat Solitano (Cooper) is a former substitute teacher who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Throughout the film, Pat’s emotions will run the gamut from charming, honest, and naïve, to angry and frustrating. He has just been released, against medical advice, into the care of his mother, Dolores, (Weaver) from an eight month court-ordered stint in a mental institution, in Baltimore, Maryland. She is taking him back to their suburban Philadelphia home to live with her and his father, Pat Sr., (De Niro) who has OCD. Pat Sr. loves his son, but feels the only way they can bond is through his obsessive fandom for the Philadelphia Eagles football team. His OCD makes it so that Pat Sr. truly believes that the Eagles’ winning and losing games hinges on quirky things he does, such as shifting the placement of the remote controls, and upon Pat Jr. watching the games with him.

Cooper’s character being released and allowed to live with his parents is contingent upon several conditions. He has to continue to take his medication, attend therapy sessions with Dr. Patel, (Anupam Kher) and refrain from having any contact with his ex-wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), who has a restraining order against him. Prior to being institutionalized, Pat arrived home early from work one day, and his wedding song, “My Cherie Amour,” sung by Stevie Wonder, was playing on the CD player. His ex-wife, an English teacher, was in the shower having sex with one of her colleagues. Pat proceeded to beat the tar out of the man and, fortunately for him, was able to take a plea deal to avoid prison. And while it is true that Pat wants to get his teaching job back, all he really can think about on his arrival home is winning his ex back. He reads the books Nikki assigns on her syllabus; he exercises, because she had been complaining about his weight; decides that he will be more attentive, especially to her needs, and, just when he thinks he is on the right course to rekindle their relationship, he meets Tiffany (Lawrence).

Pat runs into his friend Ronnie, (John Ortiz) who invites him to attend a dinner party given by his wife Veronica (Julia Stiles). Veronica is friends with Nikki, so Pat reluctantly agrees to go, figuring that perhaps he can demonstrate how much he has changed and word will get back to Nikki. Shortly after arriving at his friend’s home, he meets Tiffany. She is a widow who has had serious issues of her own since the death of her husband, a police officer, who got hit by a car while helping someone. She often comes across as abrasive during the film’s runtime. Lawrence really sells this role, and becomes one with the meticulously developed and vivid character of Tiffany. Pat leaves with Tiffany after they discuss the various medications they have taken to help cope with their respective lives. He walks her home and, right before he is about to leave, she offers to have sex with him provided he keeps the lights off; it is an offer which Pat declines.

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The two keep running into each other, only later on in the film is it revealed how that keeps happening. Eventually, Tiffany makes the offer to Pat to get a letter to Nikki, but she is tired of giving people all of herself and getting nothing in return. She is entered in a ballroom dance competition and needs a partner. If Pat will dance with her, she will get the letter to Nikki; he agrees. The rest of the film, however, is not smooth sailing.

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While Pat’s personal motto might be ‘Excelsior,’ which means ‘still higher,’ and is the motto for the State of New York, he is still prone to outbursts as a by product of his bipolar disorder. Two scenes in particular highlight his condition: One where he rips a magazine rack apart at Dr. Patel’s office because his wedding song is playing on the loud speaker in the waiting room, and the other when he flips out while looking through his parents’ house for his wedding VHS tape. In the process, he accidently hits his mother and gets into a fight with his father, resulting in bruises for both men. The pressure really gets turned up a few notches, when Pat Sr. takes a double or nothing parlay bet from his friend Randy (Paul Herman). If Pat Sr.’s Eagles can beat Randy’s Dallas Cowboys, and if Tiffany and Pat can score at least a five out of ten at their ballroom dance competition, Pat. Sr. wins. If either of those things fails to happen, he will be left with nothing, and have all of his dreams regarding opening his own diner shattered.

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Will Pat be able to let go of his unhealthy negativity and the emotional baggage associated with trying to get back together with Nikki? Does he wind up falling in love with Tiffany? Do the Eagles beat the Cowboys? Do Pat and Tiffany come up short at the dance competition or do they earn their five? If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you know there is no chance I am going to reveal that information. What I will say, is that I can’t recommend “Silver Linings Playbook” highly enough. It certainly deserved all of the praise that was heaped on it, and was one of the best movies I saw in 2012.

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About robbinsrealm

I was born in Smithtown, New York, and grew up, worked, and lived in various areas of Long Island before moving to Boca Raton, Florida where I now make my home. In addition to being an aspiring writer, I am also an English teacher. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s Degree in Education, both from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. In my spare time you will find me engrossed in books, watching movies, socializing with friends, or just staying active.
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20 Responses to “Silver Linings Playbook”

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    This looks great. Fancy Jacki Weaver working with DeNiro – awesome!! I had no idea she was that in the thick of things.

    Great actors, & love how Hollywood added some famed with some newbies (that girl).

    Enjoyed this. Wasn’t sure whether to see it, but think I will now. Thanks!

  2. Tyson Carter says:

    Great write up!!! Love this movie 🙂

  3. lauren says:

    Love this movie so much, it was one of my favourite movies of last year. Great review.

  4. jpthorn says:

    I attended the Toronto premiere having no idea what it was about either, but I really enjoyed it.

  5. Awesome movie. I really enjoyed it too! 🙂

  6. A rom/com that features dancing, mental illness and football sounds crazy but it works so well. I found myself getting a little choked up watching this and that rarely happens.

    Have you seen Winter’s Bone? Lawrence is amazing in that film.

    First time visitor, when you get a chance swing by our humble film blog and say hi.

    • robbinsrealm says:

      Firstly, thank you for stopping by, reading my blog, and taking the additional time to comment. I greatly appreciate all three of those things. Yes, I did see “Winter’s Bone,” and I thought Jennifer Lawrence did her usual excellent job. I enjoy her work and have seen just about everything she has appeared in. I have checked out your blog and have become a follower. I have received the past several posts in my e-mail and look forward to reading more in the future.

  7. Rob Zappulla says:

    First off, I love your blog!
    Second, I think what really stands out to me about SLP is how it makes you feel when you watch it. To me, I feel uncomfortable laughing at some of the things that come out of Cooper and Lawrence’s mouths – but that’s just the kind of feeling that David O’Russell wants you to have. I love the diner scene – that definitely won Lawrence the Oscar, but I was disappointed that O’Russell didn’t take home the award for screenplay.
    Again, great film and great blog!

    • robbinsrealm says:

      Thank you so very much for your compliment regarding my blog. I’m glad that you like it. I always appreciate anyone who takes the time to read what I have written and either ‘like’ the blog or leave a comment. I agree with you regarding the sort of tone that David O. Russell sets with his screenplay. In addition, I too thought the diner scene was great, and I loved how Lawrence’s character of Tiffany comes to Pat’s aid when the police officer shows up, and naturally suspect that it is Pat who is causing trouble. Jennifer Lawrence certainly deserved her Oscar. I wouldn’t have been disappointed if Russell had won the Oscar for best screenplay, but in the interest of full disclosure, I am a big Tarantino fan, so I was glad that he won. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  8. Dave says:

    Dave of Last Road Reviews (for some reason certain times only my name and not site show up). Great review. You’re an excellent writer. I’ve been meaning to see this, but its impossible to keep up with everything I wanna see

    • robbinsrealm says:

      Thank you so very much for your compliment regarding my blog and especially for the extraordinarily kind words about my writing ability. It means a great deal to me to read something like that; you are too kind. If you get an opportunity to see the film, definitely check it out. I think you will enjoy it. I know exactly what you mean, however, about having so much material that you want to get to, but there are simply not enough hours in the day. I have a stack of DVD’s I’ve been wanting to watch and a pile of books that I want to read, picking and choosing what I watch and read is sometimes a difficult decision.

      • Dave says:

        Odd still my name showing. Anyways, your welcome. You are a very good writer. One of my favorites here.

        I used to have the same problem with stacks of films. Between DVD, Blu-ray, VHS and DVD-r I had 1000s of movies. But the hurricane sort of took care of that for me. After what I survived I had about 350 maybe?? Which is still a lot, but obviously a major hit.

        So now rather than stacks I have to replace certain films plus mix that with picking things up on my list, so it now takes me longer to keep up with newer films.

  9. robbinsrealm says:

    Thank you so very much for the compliment regarding my writing, I greatly appreciate it. I love the sort of posts you put on your blog, and always enjoy reading them when I see I have a new e-mail from you.

    I lived on Long Island for so many years, and I just couldn’t believe what I was watching on the news and what I heard from friends and family after the hurricane. The sheer devastation it caused was mind blowing. My cousins had the roof to their house blown off, two people I know had their cars totally destroyed, one of my friends who lives near the water couldn’t return to his apartment building because the flooding was so overwhelming. I am sorry for any loss that you suffered from the hurricane. I’ll reiterate, I experienced some bad weather while living in New York, but nothing of that magnitude.

    As always, thank you for reading and commenting.

  10. alyssa says:

    What a great review! I just watched the movie and wanted to put it in perspective so I googled reviews and your hit it all on the head.

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