Silver Linings Playbook

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2008, Pat Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper) is released from a mental health facility into the care of his parents after eight months of treatment for bipolar disorder. During his time there, he forms a close friendship with a fellow patient, Danny (Chris Tucker), who is having legal disputes with the hospital which constantly prevents him from leaving. Pat soon learns that his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), has moved away and his father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), is out of work and resorting to bookmaking to earn money to start a restaurant. Pat is determined to get his life back on track and reconcile with Nikki, who obtained a restraining order against him after the violent episode that led to his involuntary commitment.

While talking to his court-mandated therapist Dr. Patel (Anupam Kher), Pat recounts what led to his hospitalization: coming home early from his job, he finds Nikki with another man. Enraged, he nearly beat the man to death. Despite the violence, Pat doesn’t believe he needs medication to manage his disorder.

At dinner with his friend Ronnie (John Ortiz), he meets Ronnie’s sister-in-law, Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence), a recent widow who has just lost her job.

Pat and Tiffany develop a friendship, in part because Tiffany tells him he could get a letter to Nikki through her. Tiffany offers to deliver the letter if in return he becomes her dance partner in an upcoming competition. He agrees and the two begin an arduous practice regimen, with help from Danny, who is eventually released. Pat comes to believe the competition will be a good way to show Nikki he has changed and become a better man. Tiffany gives Pat a reply from Nikki which hints at a chance for reconciliation.

Things go well for Pat until his father asks him to attend a Philadelphia Eagles game he has bet virtually all of his money on, as a “good-luck charm”. Pat skips practice with Tiffany to attend the game, but is dragged into a fight with racist thugs attacking his psychiatrist and brother, and is hauled away by police. The Eagles lose the game and Pat Sr. is furious. Tiffany arrives, berates Pat, and points out that the way she “reads the signs”, the Eagles do better when she and Pat are together, as they won every game they played on occasions when Pat and Tiffany spent time together. Pat Sr., now convinced that Pat being with Tiffany is actually good luck, makes a parlay with his gambling friend that if the Eagles win their game against Dallas, and if Pat and Tiffany score at least a 5 out of 10 in their dance competition, he will win back all the money he lost on the first bet. Pat is reluctant to participate in the dance contest under those conditions; however, Tiffany and Pat’s father persuade Pat by lying to him, saying Nikki will be there. Meanwhile, Pat, who has isolated himself from everyone, begins to read the letter from Nikki again and notices that the phrase Tiffany had used earlier—”reading the signs”—appears in the letter.

Pat, Tiffany, and everyone else arrive at the competition on the night of the football game. Tiffany is horrified to discover that Nikki is in the audience. Pat finds Tiffany, who has been drinking with a man who was trying to pick her up, and manages to coax her onto the dance floor, where they perform their routine. As they dance, the Eagles win their game and at the conclusion of their set, they score the required five points.

Pat and Tiffany are elated. Amid cheers from his family and confused looks from the crowd, Pat approaches Nikki and whispers in her ear. Tiffany sees this and storms off. Pat leaves Nikki after only a short conversation, intent on finding Tiffany. Pat Sr. informs him that Tiffany left, and tells him that she loves him right now and that it will be a sin if he doesn’t reach out to this moment that life has given him. Pat tells his father that he loves him, then chases after Tiffany and tells her he knows she forged Nikki’s letter. He confesses he has loved her from the moment he met her but has taken a long time to realize it and they kiss.

The film ends at Pat’s house, where Pat Sr. and his friend watching the football game and Pat’s brother and Ronnie are playing cards. We also see Danny and Pat’s mother cooking in the kitchen. We see Tiffany looking at Pat with a cup in her hand. She then slowly walks to him and sits on his lap.

REVIEW:

During awards season, one of the sleeper picks and surprise nominees was Silver Linings Playbook, a delightful dramedy that apparently has some truth to it, whether that is from the book or this director, I cannot tell you. I will say this, as a Dallas Cowboys fan, it was hard to watch these people gush over the Philadelphia Eagles the whole film!

What is this about?

After a four-year stay in a psychiatric institution, former teacher Pat Peoples has no choice but to move back in with his mother. While he’s trying in vain to reunite with his wife, Pat meets another woman fated to change his life.

What did I like?

Career high. For the past few films he’s been in, at least that I’ve seen, Robert De Niro has been wither phoning it in or picking bad roles tha are far beneath an actor of his calibre. Here, we get the chance to see and remember that De Niro is an extremely, competent actor. This is probably his best work since the days of Raging Bull. While we are on the subject of great performances, how about the job that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence do with their roles. We are used to these intense performances from Lawrence (Winter’s Bone, anyone?), but Cooper for the most part isn’t necessarily the go to guy for layered performances as this. He’s much more of a “pretty boy” leading man, rather than one that actually has the acting chops to back it up. Watching him in this, I may be changing my opinion on him, though.

Story. I’m a fan of this story, though I think they need to find a better team than the Eagles *cough* Cowboys*cough*. Watching this guy go through hoops just to talk to his ex-wife really touched me. I was also a fan of the relationship he formed with Jennifer Lawrence’s character, though not so much the fact that they tried to recreate Dirty Dancing in that ballroom contest they were in. The strained father/son relationship reminds me of my own in certain respects. Perhaps that is why I was so on board with this picture.

He can be taught. Friday aside, nearly everything Chris Tucker has been in has made people want to jump in the screen and choke the living daylights out of him just to get some peace and quiet. That’s how it was for me in those Rush Hour films, especially the first one. Tucker has apparently learned some restraint. He’s still a bit funny here, but in a much more subdued way.

What didn’t I like?

Wager. Near the film’s end, a major bet is made, one that if it isn’t won, could spell disaster for the loser. As this wager was being made, I couldn’t help but wonder WTF?!? I mean, is there really a reason to make such an outrageous bet, especially based on the circumstances in which it was made. I get the sentiment and everything, but there comes a point when common sense has to take over.

Fear. I’m not sure why this was, but it seemed like when Bradley Cooper’s character returned from the institution, everyone was afraid of him. Now, given that he had just snapped and beaten his wife/fiancée (I forget what she was) and the history teacher she was having sex with in the shower, one can expect a little fear. On the other hand, this is a guy who went, got help, and is now trying to return to a normal life in society. It is kind of hard to do that when everyone is treating you like you have the plague.

“My Cherie Amour”. I hear that in the book, the song that triggered Cooper’s character was “Songbird” by Kenny G. Why was it changed to Stevie Wonder’s lovely ballad “My Cherie Amour”? My guess is something to do with copyright laws and legal mumbo jumbo, or it could be because Wonder is more universally recognizable than Kenny G. At any rate, I wasn’t a fan of them blaspheming one of Stevie’s best songs (and m first marching band solo in college).

All the praise this film is getting is warranted. Now, if you’re looking for a straight comedy or drama, this is not the place, I warn you now. This is a really well-made, entertaining film that is worth of all the praise, nominations, and accolades it has recieved…and probably some that it didn’t. I highly recommend this to any and everyone. There is a line in an old song that goes, “Look for the silver lining”. Perhaps you should look for the Silver Linings Playbook.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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2 Responses to “Silver Linings Playbook”

  1. […] much more, if you ask me. I think the last thing he did where he actually put in some effort was Silver Linings Playbook. His role in this film isn’t much more than a cameo but, once again, we find De Niro playing […]

  2. […] in a wife beater, but if you want to do that, just watch her in American Hustle or Silver Linings Playbook, where you get plenty of eye candy from her. I really don’t know what the audience was for […]

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