After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.
If you want to win an Oscar®, you need to get yourself a part in a movie from the hand of David O. Russell. He has directed 7 people in an Oscar® winning role and his latest movie is no exception.
Silver Linings Playbook isn’t a movie that will appeal to everyone. Not a whole lot happens, and while some may argue that the performances alone are worthy of your time, others will say that when stripped down, the story isn’t all that special.
Both are true statements, the story, which kinda serves like a mellow one flew over the cuckoo’s nest idea, isn’t its strongpoint. Pat (Bradley Cooper) is a highly neurotic and recently fired teacher who found himself in unvoluntary treatment after severely beating up the man he caught making love to his wife.
He finds himself back to square one in his life, moving in with his parents (played by Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver) and with one goal in mind: winning back his wife.
He spends his days running and reading, and it’s on one of those runs that the plot starts to show itself to us. One of his old friends who’s married to the best friend of his wife invites him over for dinner. It’s here where he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence).
She is an equally broken spirit in her own right and the two start hanging out often after a bumpy start.
I could add two or three more sentences and that would be it for the story, but the story isn’t what’s most important here. It’s the breathtaking performances by Cooper and Lawrence. Both are known for their own specific type of roles, Bradley playing the handsome smart dude and Lawrence playing (as of recently) the big (one-dimensional) leads in movies such as ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘X-Men’.
They play well of eachother, and they seem to have some sort of awkward chemistry that works, kind of.
You see, even though the performances are great and the supporting cast (including a great turn for DeNiro and Chris Tucker) is just as good, looking back on my viewing, it feels as if they could have done more with the material they had.
The complicated relationship between Pat and his father is only partially touched upon, as well as the lingering complications in his friend’s marriage. His brother is just that, a brother, he is never fleshed out properly, he just serves to take Pat into different situations.
The would-be romance between Pat and Tiffany is what the movie spends most of it’s time on, and even though it’s all done extremely well, it could have benefitted from more things happening around that obvious main story arc.
There are definitely some moments which serve as excellent examples of how to create a scene, and how to act, but to make it feel special, everything needs to be in alignment.
And with a story whose ending you can feel coming from a mile away, and a relatively slow pace, it’s not the glorious Oscar® winner that people make it out to be.
In retrospect, SLP is a good movie, with a few great performances, but it’s the silver lining to a rather dull playbook.