Film Review

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

IMDB link
Running time: 2h 2min
Directed by David O. Russell
Written by David O. Russell (screenplay), Matthew Quick (novel)
Starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro

Silver Linings Playbook is a movie I heard much about but never watched before now. From what I gather, it seems to be well liked by both audiences and critics. The film is a strange mix of drama and romantic comedy, which partly works, and partly, in my opinion, does not. Former teacher Pat (Bradley Cooper) is down on his luck trying to connect with his estranged ex-wife, but gradually finds a more meaningful connection with smoking hot but utterly crazy neighbor Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). What happens by the end of the film you can probably guess already. But you almost certainly cannot guess what happens before that, because it, like the two main characters, is nuts.

Cooper and Lawrence (whose acting I usually do not like) do a very good job as the leads. Robert De Niro has a minor part as Pat’s dad and is just okay in the role, not that much more is needed of him. Everyone else is mostly okay as well. Overall, this film is okay. Most everything is good, competently made and relatively entertaining, but not quite great. The one area where the film excels at is the presentation of mental illness of its two main characters, both of whom are heavily afflicted.

J-Law and Bradley Cooper are crazy for each other, eventually

The story seems to be constructed as a vehicle to get the two misfit main characters together by the end, and what happens in between does not concern itself too much with how believable or compelling it is. Which is a shame since I generally value the journey over the destination. For example, the whole gambling part of the story does not work for me, it just seems way too absurd. It just feels like something crazy that happens in order to get the characters somewhere by the time the film is about to end. The movie also feels significantly longer than it needs to be, and I do not think much would be lost by cutting some of the filler out. The film attempts to be humorous and quirky, but while I did not find the humor bad, per se, I also did not find it funny enough to warrant a physical reaction.

Bradley Cooper can be crazy all by himself as well

Silver Linings Playbook is the first film I am reviewing that I have not seen multiple times. Inherently there is a possibility that this might make this review a bit harsher than the previous two, which were about movies that I chose to rewatch. I might also not have noticed everything meaningful, missed something, or perhaps misunderstood something. That is always a danger in reviewing something based on one viewing.

Not all is sunshine and roses, or something

Despite my perhaps harsh tone in this review, as I said, Silver Linings Playbook is a decent flick. I can definitely see why some would think that it is a very good film instead of just a good film (7.7 rating on IMDB), but for me it did not quite work all the way through. The comedy aspects of the film were not executed well enough, and the length and absurdity were not to my liking either. To its credit, the film does not take itself too seriously – nor can it with the ridiculous gambling plot or the weird humor. As stated earlier, the standouts of the film are the acting by Cooper and Lawrence, and the depiction of mental illness. It is a fairly inoffensive feel-good film despite of the struggles presented; something to watch on a date, perhaps. That might be obvious given the genre. I do not know if I would have preferred a more serious approach, or an even more absurd, comic one. All I know is that the end result did not quite work for me. It has to be said, however, that I am not the target audience for romantic comedies.

A romantic comedy requires some drama as well

To sum it up, Silver Linings Playbook is okay, even good, perhaps, but it never quite reaches the heights of a great drama or a great comedy. This is my subjective opinion, however, and I can understand very well why this film might appeal more to others. It is worth a watch if you enjoy romantic comedies, are at all interested in the subject matter, or are a fan of the main actors.

Rating: 6.5 / 10

Times I had seen this film prior to this viewing: 0

Would I want to rewatch it? Perhaps some day, you never know

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