Silver Linings Playbook Review: A Funny Character Drama for People Who Can Handle Being Spoken to As Adults
Brad Lee Cooper Actor turns in one of the most nuanced performances of his career, something that proved to me he was more than just a pretty face, as most of his previous roles seemed more devoted to catching just the right angle of sunlight off his glinting hair and chiseled features. But long gone is that Cooper, and we're left with a character broken down to bits and reconstructed from the ground up. Almost unrecognizable, his portrayal of the casual swings of bi-polar disorder is deeply affecting. His anger issues threaten every facet of his life, a long-standing issue that has affected his relationships across the board, from his distant wife to his older brother, best friend to his hapless father. Patrick is relentless in his verbal commitment to positivity, as if tumbling the idea over and over in his mind will help it find purchase, and become ingrained in his deepest sense of self.
Jennifer Lawrence inhabits her character just as fully, with no time for false empathy, instead holding her own against any and all comers. She's unpredictable, loud, obnoxious and unwilling to put up with any of Patrick's shit. A commanding presence that refuses to be cowed, though Patrick does his accidental best to curb and undermine her, make her ashamed of being alive out of his own fear. This mask eventually falls away, and Patrick's single minded focus on winning his wife back nearly costs him all he wanted, but Tiffany is far too determined and clever to be sidetracked by anything or anyone.
One potential misstep is the length of the film, which at two hours had me checking the time endlessly during the last quarter, and the truly terrible title which may be one of the worst of the year. I get it, it has to do with football and with silver linings and stuff, but come on. It's hard to say and a million syllables. But don't let a terrible title keep you from Silver Linings Playbook. There's warmth, laughter, community and joy to be found here amidst the ruins. When we have nothing left to lose we find ourselves at our most authentic, and emerge from these moments of alchemy wiser, changed.