'Silver Linings Playbook' is golden

Article Published: Jan. 30, 2013 | Modified: Jan. 30, 2013
'Silver Linings Playbook' is golden

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper star in ‘Silver Linings Playbook.’

“Silver Linings Playbook” is, in fact, a silver lining.

With most dime-a-dozen romantic comedies, it’s hard to find a bright side. They come from the same cookie cutter, baked with predictability and contrived sentimentality.

They’re typically a safe bet for box office success, but seldom do they offer anything genuine in the way of, say, romance and comedy.

“Silver Linings Playbook” dares to return to those roots, and then goes above and beyond. Emotionally charged and exceptionally entertaining, it’s the silver lining in a genre that’s sadly grown stale.

By focusing on story rather than formula, director David O. Russell (“Three Kings”) creates a wonderful film that’s bolstered by knockout performances from Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover”), Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”) and Robert De Niro (‘Taxi Driver”).

It’s one of the year’s best, hands down, and a deserving contender for the upcoming Academy Awards.

Cooper plays Pat, a man who finds himself institutionalized after a mental breakdown. Although he suffers from severe bipolar disorder, he’s released and comes to live with his parents (Jacki Weaver, “The Five-Year Engagement,” and De Niro), who hope to help him return to normalcy.

But the road to recovery is long and tough. At the end of it, Pat hopes to reunite with his estranged wife, Nikki (Brea Bee, “Lebanon, Pa.”), who he caught with another man, leading to a violent breakdown and a subsequent restraining order.

As irrational as this reunion might seem, she’s his unlikely beacon of hope. All this is called into question, much to Pat’s dismay, when he meets a friend of a friend, Tiffany (Lawrence).

Tiffany is consumed by her own problems, though, coping with the death of her husband and the emotional fallout that ensued.

The two form an unorthodox friendship that helps tremendously in their respective healing. While their motives seem self-serving at first, they soon find that the best therapy comes from simply having a shoulder to lean on.

To say any more would give away some of the film’s spectacular turns and surprises – and there are plenty. But every silver lining’s got a touch of grey, and, like its protagonists, “Silver Linings Playbook” has its emotional ups and downs, presented with expert balance by director Russell, who finds the comedy in drama and vice versa.

None of it would be possible, though, without some outstanding performances from its cast. Cooper and Lawrence shine in every sense of the word, but it’s oh so refreshing to see De Niro in a role that actually takes advantage of his talent.

In a story about bringing out the best, Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” actually manages to do so.
“Silver Linings Playbook,” rated R for language and some sexual content and nudity, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, see page 18 or visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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