One of my favorite films of 2010 was David O. Russell’s THE FIGHTER. The film contained and was anchored by incredibly strong performances lead by the Oscar winning turn from Christian Bale. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, since I knew very little about it beyond it starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Having seen the film I’m not even sure of the best way to describe the film that accurately conveys how I really feel without making it seems incredibly negative.
The film follows a man, Pat (Bradley Cooper) that has spent 8 months in a psychiatric facility battling a violent mental breakdown. He is diagnosed with a bipolar disorder and is determined to rehabilitate himself by trying to win back his wife and get his old job back while living with his parents. He meets a Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), whose husband has passed away and is suffering from significant mood swings as well and the two begin a peculiar relationship with one another.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is- all in all- an extremely bizarre film. Ultimately it can be predictable, but the events in the film are so off center that even when I thought I knew what was going to happen I couldn’t be sure. Essentially, this is a film that takes everything you think will or should happen based off of everything you’ve seen before and skews it ever so slightly to create a familiar style of film in a much more compelling way.
Much like THE FIGHTER, this is a film anchored by fantastic performances- with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper leading the charge. Cooper’s character becomes the one that’s the easiest to read and predict, although he does it in a way that’s hilarious and endearing in spite of the horribly inappropriate things he says. Lawrence on the other hand is a wild card here- she has moments here that are powerful, bizarre and sweet and her performance is phenomenal. Between the two of them and they multi-layered characters everyone else kind of gets lost in the shuffle, although you cannot undermine the great work done here by Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver.
The thing that makes the film a bit bizarre is the screenplay from which the actors are working from. However, as strange as the script is, there are some editing choices that lend to the proceedings as well. The two main characters are given plenty of backstory so that we as an audience can understand why they are behaving the way that they do, which in spite of how much we know it likely won’t stop some from being confused about the choices they make in a physical nature and to what they say in any given situation. The audience’s reaction can likely mirror the reaction of the characters surrounding these two as they are constantly confused and frustrated by their actions.
During the course of writing this and trying to get my thoughts in order I’ve on more than one occasion gotten stuck trying to find the right words to say. Eventually, I arrived at the decision that while the film can be a bit alienating at times with the mixture of extremely off-beat dark humor, goofy humor, drama and predictable romantic elements those are also the things that I found fresh about the film in general. Based solely on the willingness to be different while mixing in hints of familiar tropes creates something that’s endearing, funny and fascinating to watch. The finale itself is an amalgamation of all the things you’ve probably seen, but based on everything else that came before it was still undeniably sweet and corny at the same time. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK may just be one of the most unconventional crowd pleasing films I’ve seen in a while, but one that will surely charm and move people from all types of audiences.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)