Silver Linings Playbook

SilverLiningsPlaybookMy mopping up of recent critically rated movies continues with Silver Linings Playbook, for which Jennifer Lawrence just picked up a best actress Oscar. I don’t know whether there’s a recognised sub-genre for off-beat dialogue-heavy films revolving around a troubled young individual retreating to his or her family home and then striking up unlikely but redemptive connections with other troubled young individuals but I seem to have seen quite a lot of them (Garden State and You Can Count On Me spring to mind straight away), and if this a category SLP falls squarely into it. Pat (Bradley Cooper) is a bi-polar and fiercely earnest school teacher whose job and marriage disappear from under him when he finds himself institutionalised after a traumatic and violent episode. He’s full of nothing but good intentions though, and when his mother springs him from the facility he’s determined to do his best to make amends and win back his wife, despite an inconvenient restraining order and his refusal to take his meds making all his social interactions tense at best. As he himself says, he has no conversational filter and is incapable of dissembling for the sake of maintaining a cordial tone. Eventually he catches the eye of Tiffany (Lawrence), who’s attempting a recovery from her own set of personal calamities, and events play out more or less along the lines you’d expect, though with enough plot swerves, hyper-charged confrontations and over-ambitious dance routines to keep you engaged throughout. There’s a lot of shouting and swearing and raw nerves on display here but it’s actually a pretty sweet film – although more or less everyone on screen is suffering from psychological damage (most prominently, Robert de Niro as Pat’s OCD ballgame-obsessed father) none of the characters are selfish or malicious, and all of them are striving for a happy ending. Not sure JL really deserved that Oscar over Emmanuelle Riva’s amazing turn in Amour, but it’s nice that something in which the stakes are this small and personal got some kind of nod.

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One response to “Silver Linings Playbook

  1. The film asks for us to look at the dysfunctional parts of ourselves, and it’s this raw honesty that helps smooth over the clichéd moments such as a climatic dance sequence. Good review.

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