Review: SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (2012) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


RATING: 4.5/5

Two years after his critically-acclaimed boxing drama in THE FIGHTER (which also won Christian Bale his first Best Supporting Actor Oscar), writer-director David O. Russell has finally returned to his roots (quirky comedy, that is) in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. The result is one of his funniest movies to date. That's not all -- SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is the ultimate feel-good movie of 2012, anchored by memorable cast and witty screenplay all around.

Adapted from Matthew Quick's 2008 novel, the story centers around Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper), a former substitute teacher who is an emotionally troubled man returns to his Philadelphia home of parents Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro) and Dolores (Jacki Weaver) after spending eight months in a Baltimore mental institution. Apparently he is ordered to stay there because he had nearly beating a man to death following an affair with his wife Nikki (Brea Bee). He is certainly a short-tempered person, where he suffers a severe case of bipolar disorder -- a condition related to manic depressive illness. And yet he refuses to stay on his medication and believes he can control himself. Now he vows to do everything he can to win back his wife -- starting by getting in shape and such. The problem is, his wife already filed a restraining order against him, which made him even more difficult to achieve his goal.

During that time, Pat has unexpectedly making friend with an emotionally troubled widow named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a self-proclaimed "crazy slut with a dead husband". Then Tiffany offers to pass along a letter to Pat's wife, since she sees her regularly, on the condition that Pat will help her as a partner to compete in a local dance competition.

Judging by the premise, there's actually nothing original about the story. But yet, it was the way of its execution that made the movie so compulsively watchable. Thanks to Russell's entertaining script, the plot is constantly funny and involving while the quirky dialogue are razor-sharp. Russell's direction is also top-notch especially the way he play the situation about the subject of mental illness and of course, two psychologically unstable protagonists (Pat and Tiffany) for genuine laughs without resulting into cheap mockery or mindless slapstick.

Apart from Russell's awesome piece of work, the cast are remarkably ace as well. In his best performance to date, Bradley Cooper has never been this charismatic before. What's more, his neurotic acting is often fun to watch for. As Tiffany, Jennifer Lawrence gives another tour de force performance in her career. No doubt she projects a magnetic screen presence here. She can be tough, vulnerable, sassy and sexy (love her dark hair) and most of all, an amazingly funny actress rolled all into one. She's a completely perfect acting package. Other supporting roles are equally captivating as well: Robert De Niro has never been this spontaneous in a long while as Pat's father who is particularly superstitious with football; Jacki Weaver is delightful as Pat's caring mother while Chris Tucker appears in a memorable cameo as Pat's best mental-ward buddy. It's nice to see him playing a well-balanced comic relief without exaggerating his larger-than-life persona we used to find him in movies like RUSH HOUR trilogy. Even smaller roles like Anupam Kher as Pat's therapist, Julia Stiles and John Ortiz as Pat's neighborhood friends, Veronica and Ronnie, have their own share of limelights as well.

Technical credits are well-calculated here with great use of its Philadelphia setting in the suburban area that you almost feel like home. Masanobu Takayanagi's zooming handheld camerawork and Jay Cassidy's hyperactive editing combined well together to mirror the twitchy effect of Pat's whirlwind mindset. Completing the tech package are Danny Elfman's music and a perfectly-chosen soundtrack supervised by Sue Jacobs (especially that Stevie Wonder's evergreen love ballad My Cherie Amour).

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK could have been a five-star comedy masterpiece, if not for its minor flaw. Too bad the middle part sags a little as if Russell is struggling to maintain the perfect momentum. But once the climactic finale kicks off with a local dance competition involving Pat and Tiffany (a memorable one, indeed), the movie is certainly exhilarating enough with a highly-satisfying payoff.

So if you are looking for a current movie that puts a big smile on your face and characters that you can root for, look no further than SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

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