SILVER Linings Playbook may be billed as a romcom, but don’t expect a frothy, flirty, will-she-won’t-she, girl-gets-guy romantic kind of flick.
This quirky movie, which is up for a bundle of Oscars, has a spikier edge and is all the better for it. A feelgood movie without the schmaltz.
Directed by David O Russell, it’s about former teacher Pat Solitano, back home with his parents after spending eight months in a psychiatric institution for beating up his wife’s lover while the two of them were up to no good in the shower.
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder and subject to terrifying mood swings, Pat has only been allowed home on the understanding that he takes medication — something he rejects, believing that taking tablets won’t help him get his life back on track.
His wife Nikki has taken out a restraining order against him but Pat is determined to get back with her and enlists his friend’s sister-in-law, Tiffany, to act as a go-between.
But recently-widowed Tiffany has mental problems of her own, not least coming to terms with bereavement which resulted in her being fired from her job for having sex with 11 of the staff. However, she agrees to help Pat as long as he helps her with something important to her — taking part in a dance competition in aid of a police charity. (Her husband was a cop.)
In true romcom style, you feel Pat’s more likely to get it together with Tiffany than with Nikki but there’s plenty of witty dialogue, oddball situations and insight into Pat’s dysfunctional family dynamics before any conclusion is reached.
That Pat (played with much energy by the amiable Bradley Cooper) still needs his pills is never in doubt. He can still lose his rag bigtime and you can see why, given the pressures of living at home where everyone appears to be continually arguing, bickering and generally yelling over each other. But his association with Tiffany and succeeding in doing something he’s not done before (that is, dance) gives him optimism for the “silver lining” they both crave.
The success of this film owes much to the cast ensemble. Robert de Niro is excellent as Pat’s dad, an obsessive compulsive disorder sufferer, passionate about American football, in particular the Philadelphia Eagles from whose stadium he’s been banned for disorderly behaviour. Jacki Weaver provides good support as his patient wife, Dolores. And Jennifer Lawrence gives plain-speaking Tiffany a feistiness and vulnerability that is endearing. An enjoyable movie.