Monday 27 June 2016

Cinema Review - Silver Linings Playbook

Previously published by Front Room Cinema in 2012

Bradley Cooper has become the go to guy for Hollywood in roles that usually involve either a stereotypical ladies man, big laughs or lots of action, but it is great to see his acting ability given room to breathe in Silver Linings Playbook, as he proves that he is far more than just a pretty face with his gripping performance as Pat, a recovering patient fresh from a stint in a Psychiatric Unit. The wonderful film title refers to a message Pat takes to heart during his time in care as he searches for the silver lining in every situation but he still struggles to keep his composure when exposed to a certain song that was playing at the time of his breakdown.

It is initially unclear why Pat has served time in a psychiatric unit but the signs all lead to difficulties in his marriage, and this is soon confirmed by his increasingly desperate attempts to contact his estranged wife by any means possible, despite a restraining order being in place. Whilst an encounter with a new female friend - similarly troubled by events in her past - does provide a distraction to his desire, Pat's heart appears to be firmly set on rekindling his marriage, but this does not deter the ever resourceful Tiffany from becoming a key figure in his rehabilitation.

David O Russell proved he could bring dysfunctional families to the big screen with last year's fantastic sports film The Fighter, and he continues to expand on his flair for human drama by coaxing riveting performances out of a very talented cast. Pat's family is rounded out by the ever wonderful Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro as his increasingly concerned parents and Shea Whigham as his annoyingly successful brother who serves to remind Pat of his shortcomings, and all involved make every scene a joy to watch. Jennifer Lawrence shines as Tiffany, and her turbulent relationship with Pat is the key to most of the films laughs, as he remains immune to her constant advances.

Films which approach a serious subject matter from a humorous point of view can be in danger of offending certain audiences, but much like last year's 50/50 which tackled the risque subject of cancer in a comedy, O Russell's portrayal of mental illness is treated with such care that the viewers will undoubtedly sympathise with Pat and Tiffany's problems, whilst still finding laughs in the hilarious situations they encounter. 

Heartwarming, funny and at times poignant, Silver Linings Playbook is a great adapation of a well-received novel and it is likely to touch all but the most cynical of viewers thanks to the array of incredibly entertaining characters who breathe life to this story. Perfect for those tired of the usual romantic cliches as well as being funny enough for those seeking laughs, this is an uplifting drama which will hopefully inspire others to seek out a silver lining when everything appears to be against them.

Direction - 4
Acting - 4
Screenplay 3.5
Film - 4

Bottom Line - David O Russell's follow up to last year's Oscar grabbing The Fighter is a moving and at times hilarious character study of how a psychiatric patients recovery impacts on the life of a young woman bereaving the death of her husband.

Positives - Cooper and Lawrence shine as the unlikely couple who find friendship despite their personal problems

Negatives - With such a great cast, some of the actors involved are slightly underused

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