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Silver Linings Playbook (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 122 minutes.

Not for children.

Nobody wants to tell the viewing audience what this is about before they buy their tickets. The synopsis by The Weinstein Company is completely silent about the main theme, only saying that "Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) has lost everything - his house, his job, and his wife. He now finds himself living back with his mother (Jacki Weaver) and father (Robert DeNiro) after spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain."

This implies that Pat did not belong in the mental institution. In fact Pat is seriously bipolar and probably shouldn't have been released from the institution. The Weinstein Company goes on to say that this is just about Pat trying to rebuild his life and get back together with his estranged wife. That's not what the movie is about.

This movie is about two people with mental illness that appears more serious than mere neurosis trying to find love despite their illnesses. But it's not about Pat's relationship with his wife, which is merely a McGuffin. The person with whom he finds himself involuntarily getting involved is not Pat's wife, but Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl he meets at a dinner party. Tiffany, while not as disturbed as Pat, has her problems, too.

This is a dark comedy about a serious subject. Cooper and Lawrence do themselves proud. In addition to her outstanding performance, Lawrence displays a body that was well hidden in The Hunger Games and Winter's Bone. In this film she is as sexy an actress as one will see on the screen, especially when she takes stage in a form fitting, steamy white outfit in the dancing finale.

It's brilliantly directed by David O Russell, who also wrote the script based on a novel by Matthew Quirk. Although overly long for a romcom, this is not your garden variety romcom because it tackles a serious subject in an entertaining manner. There are some real laughs. The dialogue is sometimes as quick as the dialogue between George Segal and Glenda Jackson in A Touch of Class (1973), the first third of which is among the funniest films of all time.

Cooper gives a fine performance in a difficult role, but the one who really shines is Lawrence, who should be up for awards for this one. She nails it.