Pat (Bradley Cooper) has just been discharged from a court-ordered stint in an institution. His parents, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and Dolores (Jacki Weaver) are a little concerned that he mightn’t be ready for the real world, but he’s got a plan and is keen to get his life on track, including getting back together with his wife. Everyone around him seems to think this isn’t at all likely to happen, but as someone who has only recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Pat has an uncanny knack for living in denial. He’s always blaming those around him for his outbursts, or diagnosing his father’s mental issues whilst downplaying his own. In steps Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young woman with her own behavioural issues, and this is where the unconventional romance begins. Not only can these two compare behavioural medications with each other, they both don’t fit in to the distinctly normal world around them.
Silver Linings Playbook positively crackles when Lawrence and Cooper share the screen. They spend the majority of the film arguing, and I loved every minute of it. This isn’t the usual romcom opposites attract-type bickering, but out and out fury. It’s fun to see these two be drawn to each other despite their best efforts. Pat’s manic frustration is more than matched by Tiffany’s borderline fury. It comes as no surprise that Lawrence’s performance is brilliant, however it’s good to see an edge to the suave and charismatic characters Cooper often plays.
The supporting cast all get their chance to impress. Julia Stiles is present as Tiffany’s sister, Veronica, and her fleeting appearances make me wish she was on the big screen more often. Weaver and De Niro make a fantastic couple while Chris Tucker has fun as Pat’s friend and fellow inpatient, Danny.
Cinematographer Masanobu Takayanagi ensures that whilst the film may sometimes drift into romantic comedy territory, the look of the film is anything but conventional. The visual style is initially confronting, with its mix of zooms, crossfades and Steadicam work, but it perfectly complements Pat’s unhinged state.
If I were to have any complaints about Silver Linings Playbook, it would be that the further it plays out, the more conventional it becomes. This isn’t to say that I had a problem with the direction of the narrative, however. Watching Lawrence and Cooper together onscreen is a joyful experience, and the film bristles with an energy that never lets up.Rating: