As the saying goes “Every cloud has a silver lining” and in this case bipolar Patrick “Pat” Solitano is having some serious problems in finding his. The film is written and directed by David O. Russell and based off the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick. After beating his cheating wife’s lover mercilessly Pat gets sent to a mental institution for 8 months. Apparently reformed (but secretly not taking his meds), he returns to live with his parents in suburban Philadelphia. His father Patrizio “Pat Sr.” Solitano (Robert De Niro), a lifelong Philadelphia Eagles fans who harbours serious OCD/anger issues and his mother Dolores Solitano (Jacki Weaver), only wants what’s best for him and for them to be a sane happy family again.
Pat’s primary goals are to over come his mental demons, beat a song which acts as a trigger to his bad behaviour and get his marriage with his estranged wife back on track. He soon befriends an equally depressed young lady Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who’s coping with the recent death of her husband by engaging in compulsive sex with almost every guy and gal she encounters. Tiffany, through her sister Veronica Maxwell (Julia Stiles), has frequent run-ins with Pat’s estranged wife Nikki (Brea Bree) and offers to deliver a his letter to her if he agrees to be her partner for an upcoming dance competition.
It is a film that, between the laughs, offers a moving and sensitive portrayal of mental illness and due to the impeccable cast, O.Russell is able to pull it off. Complete with inappropriate conversations, uncontrollable outbursts and unpredictable behaviour, Pat and Tiffany bond over sporadic encounters that can be considered dates in the most conventional sense of the word, but far from romantic to any rational person. There are so many magical scenes in this but a brilliant scene involving almost the entire cast really ignites the narrative as each actor has a chance to throw their performance against each other,. The best thing is that the scene isn’t about the actors trying to out do each other competitively but each of them showing how they can all be set loose in a room and stand their ground.
As Pat, Cooper really embraces the leading man role with conviction and is almost unrecognisable. His believable portrayal of the casual swings of bi-polar disorder is deeply affecting. Jennifer Lawrence makes the most of the opportunity to step outside of the strong, stoic type established for her by Hunger Games and Winter Bones’ characters. As the latter earned her an oscar nomination, it’s only right her role in this film emulates that. Also a special shout out goes to Chris Tucker who plays Danny, Pat’s best friend from the institute. Tucker has not been in a film other than the Rush Hour ones, so it’s good to have him back on our screens..acting rather than shouting.
The trailer is a disservice the the movie itself. It’s very entertaining, and does something that many rom-coms don’t succeed at: being grounded in reality while dealing with issues that are very much taboo if it’s met with ignorance. All the main characters are either living with a mental disorder or dealing with those around it. SLP is a simple film with a foreseen storyline but it’s about real people than some overblown melodrama with a love story in waiting. Many of us know people with various types of mental illnesses from the mild to the deep, and so in the film we can relate to them in their weakened emotional state. We root for Pat and Tiffany to find happiness and over come their trials and tribulations together as mentally they both come from the same neck of the woods.
A very good film indeed.
Director: David O. Russell
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher
Screenplay: Edward McCabe
Runtime: 122 mins Cert: 15
Enjoy the trailer
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)