Silver Linings Playbook
4 stars (out of four)
Rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray, digital download and on demand
Although Jennifer Lawrence’s best actress Oscar was the only honor “Silver Linings Playbook” pulled down at the most recent Academy Awards celebration, it’s impact was greater than that single award indicates. That’s because the film went into Oscar night with eight total nominations, including one for best picture. The movie also received a best director nod for David O. Russel, and it was the only film to receive acting nominations in all four categories. Although they didn’t win, Bradley Cooper was up for best actor, Robert De Niro was up for supporting actor and Jacki Weaver was in the race for supporting actress.
Movie awards are not the most important indicators of a project’s quality but – when the system is at its best – they point viewers toward worthy pictures. This is certainly the case with “Silver Linings,” as the film is rare in terms of both technical prowess and substance.
“Silver Linings” centers on Pat Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper), a thirty-something man struggling with a recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder and a court-ordered stint in a mental institution. When his mother (Weaver) checks him out, he has trouble adapting to life outside the hospital, and he particularly struggles with the fact that his estranged wife (Brea Bee) wants nothing to do with him. Things change, however, when he meets Tiffany Maxwell (Lawrence), a young woman recovering from the death of her husband.
Despite their shared fragility, Pat and Tiffany develop a strong friendship that deepens when they partner for an amateur dance competition. O. Russell walks viewers through their training regimen, but he also spends time following Pat’s adjustment to home life. In particular, he considers Pat’s relationship with his father (De Niro), a die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fan who – after being laid off – is making a living as a bookmaker.
As the Oscar nominations indicate, the acting in “Silver Linings” is superb. Every major player is a standout, and the supporting cast is excellent as well. As great as the performers are, they don’t deserve all of the credit. O. Russell sets each scene expertly, delivering a perfect mix of character development and plot. The result is a great picture that movie buffs will return to year after year.
DVD and Blu-ray extras include deleted scenes and several making-of features.