Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker
Running Time: 122 minutes
“I’m doing good, I’m remaking myself”, Patrick assures his parents as they bite their lips doubtfully. Then he hurls Ernest Hemingway’s ‘A Farewell to Arms’ through a closed window and storms said parents’ room at 4 o’clock in the morning, eyes flashing, to vent his spleen on the evils of the novel.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK follows Pat (Bradley Cooper) as he struggles to re-adjust to life in suburbia after eight months in a mental health facility for bipolar disorder. His concerned mother (Jacki Weaver - who gives a fantastic understated performance) brings Pat home against doctor’s recommendations, and we soon learn why as it seems his family and friends are as mad as the mental patients! And then he meets Tiffany, who’s also crazy – and crazy-hot!
Whilst SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK maysound like a contrived farce, it’s actually a warm, offbeat, and superbly-written comedy from David O. Russell, of the most excellent I HEART HUCKABEES. Russell’s brilliance is to create characters that are bizarre and intriguing, but still have the ring of truth.
It’s an intense watch: the pace and editing is dizzying, reflecting Pat’s relentless, obsessive energy and mood swings; the comic, high-gloss take on mental illness might test your patience, and the impossibly good-looking Bradley Cooper may seem like an odd choice for this part. But stick with it – Cooper manages to turn that obnoxious arrogance into a high-energy and convincing portrayal of a bipolar sufferer. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as the blunt, tough Tiffany is also compelling (and rightly won her a plethora of awards). In fact, you’d be hard pushed to find a performance in this film that isn’t great.
The film rattles at breakneck speed through true love, stale marriages, the meaning of madness, the search for truth and one’s identity, but the nuanced performances and expert directing keep the viewer engaged and moved, rather than suffering from acute motion sickness. The last half hour sees the film wander into slightly more conventional and predictable terrain, but it really is a slight detour and by now Russell and his motley cast will have captured your hearts and minds too much for it to matter.
Brimming with Pat’s nervous energy, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK delivers an insightful and witty look on the label of mental illness.