Silver linings playbook (2012)
I usually tend to know a lot about the story of a movie before I go and see it. But I honestly didn’t know anything about ‘Silver linings playbook’ when I decided to go check it out. All I knew was that it’s been getting a lot of praise at both award ceremonies and by movie critics and that it received quite a few Oscar nominations. Since it’s being nominated for ‘Best Picture’ as well, I decided to watch it and hope for the best. And I have to admit, unlike some other nominees, it didn’t disappoint!
Before I get into the story, let’s have a look at the 8 Oscar nominations this movie received: Best Picture, Best Actor in a leading role (Bradley Cooper), Best Actress in a leading role (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (Robert De Niro), Best Supporting Actress (Jacki Weaver), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing.
Misery loves company
The movie, adapted from a 2008 novel, starts in a mental institution, where we meet Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), a former teacher. After seeing his wife Nikki cheating on him with one of their colleagues, he goes through a violent and bipolar episode and gets sent to a mental institution. After 8 months, he moves back in with his parents and starts coming up with a way to get back together with his cheating wife (don’t ask me why), even though she has taken out a restraining order against him. Although he doesn’t have a lot going for him, Pat still believes his luck will turn around. He even comes up with a power word: Excelsior. “It means you know what I’m gonna do, I’m gonna take all this negativity and use it as fuel and I’m gonna find a silver lining, that’s what I’m gonna do. And that’s no bullshit. That’s no bullshit. That takes work and that’s the truth.”
One night, Pat gets invited over for dinner at his best friend Ronnie’s house, who also invited his wife’s sister Tiffany. Now Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, recently lost her husband and went through her sadness by sleeping with everyone in her office, young/old, man/woman. Yes, literally everyone. Pat and Tiffany don’t connect at all when they first meet, Pat even thinks Tiffany is crazier than him, which results in a massive fight between the two of them. However, when Pat decides to write a letter to his wife, to explain to her how much better he’s gotten, he realizes Tiffany is the only one who can give the letter to Nikki. Before agreeing to hand it over to Nikki, she strikes a deal with Pat: he has to compete with her as her partner in a dance competition. As they are figuring out their routine, they are both slowly starting to become friends and manage find some peace in their minds at the same time.
Focus on the odd
One of the reasons why this movie is getting so much praise, is the unusual amount of atypical people in the story. Pretty much everyone surrounding Pat isn’t what society would consider ‘normal’. Pat’s dad, for instance, played by Robert DeNiro, has OCD, is superstitious, has a gambling addiction and is an obsessive Philadelphia Eagles fan.
Apart from Pat’s dad, this entire movie focuses on other people who have mental issues or who behave in the way they want it, not in the way society dictates it. I’ve always been fond of movies that draw attention to the odd ones, the mad ones, the outcasts of society. Because really, they are the most interesting ones.
Although the essence of the story is dramatic, it’s also a romantic and comedic movie, but wrapped in a totally different package than what we’ve gotten used to. Director David O. Russell has really done his best to capture the characters in a good way, without making them look like freaks. Also, both Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper put their heart and soul into their roles and they’ve managed to really get into the essence of their character. Not once does their character seem over the top and fake. The anger they often show is really believable and the chemistry between them is undeniable.
It’s also really interesting to see how both these characters deal with their own tragedies, death and betrayal, in their lives and how one incident can change a lifetime.
Also, even though the theme of the movie isn’t meant to be funny, it doesn’t turn into a bittersweet movie with lots of sadness or darkness. And again, just like with ‘The Impossible’, I really like the camera movements, colors and the music in ‘Silver linings playbook’. I also really loved the dance they invented and how the music and the dance itself actually seem to reflect different periods in their lives. So in all, very much worthy of its nomination and a really interesting and entertaining movie to watch with unusual characters and superb performances!
“This is what I believe to be true. You have to do everything you can and if you stay positive, you have a shot at finding the silver lining”