Mental illness, romance, and football seldom go together but make a surprisingly fun combination in the new movie Silver Linings Playbook.
The film starts out with Pat Salanto Jr. (Bradley Cooper) being released from a psych ward where he was sent in for beating a man half to death. When he returns home, he is welcomed by his mother (Jackie Weaver) and his father (Robert DeNiro). He is constantly reminded to stay away from his ex -wife Nikki (Brea Bee). But regardless of what anyone is telling him, he is determined to continue his old life and reunite with Nikki, even though she has put a restraining order against him.
One of the conditions for Pat’s release is that he must go to mandatory counseling sessions. During the first counseling session it is revealed that Pat beat up the man because he caught him sleeping with Nikki. He says that Stevie Wonder’s “Mi Cherie Amor” was playing on their wedding CD when Pat caught Nikki and her lover in the shower. Now their wedding song is a trigger for Pat’s outrageous attacks and he often hears it playing in his head. At the end of the session it is also revealed that Pat has been suffering from bipolar disorder his whole life and is learning to control it.
With hopes of seeing Nikki and reuniting with her, Pat agrees to attend a dinner at a friend’s house where he’s introduced to Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl who’s dealing with issues of her own after losing her husband. Still determined to get in contact with Nikki, Pat asks Tiffany to give a letter to her. In exchange, Tiffany asks Pat to be her partner in a ballroom competition.
Silver Linings is an uplifting look at the usual romance storyline. The constant reminder that both characters are struggling to hold their lives together added realism to the storyline and the characters. Despite the fact that they are both mentally ill, director David Russell mixes in humor to lighten the mood.
The heart of the film is the chemistry between Pat and Tiffany. Their scenes are very emotional and hilarious but show that they both understand what the other is going through. Bradley Cooper’s inspiring performance is enough to forgive him for “The Hangover 2”, and hopefully get him an Oscar nomination. The beautiful Jennifer Lawrence shows she can be a leading lady in movies other than “The Hunger Games.”
Silver Linings Playbook has definitely been one of the years bests films and a type of film that should be made more often.
Star rating: 4/5