By Lane Roberts
Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) has lost everything—his wife, his job and his mind. Following an eight-month stint in a state psychiatric institution for assaulting the man with whom he found his wife cheating, Pat finds himself living back at home with his parents (superbly portrayed by Jacki Weaver and Robert DeNiro), who, it becomes clear, have some troubling neuroses of their own in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook.
What follows is a romantic comedy that may save the oft-criticized genre from any future eye rolls from reluctant boyfriends or husbands. The classic boy-meets-girl archetype is turned on its head when Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl who just may be literally crazy enough to fall in love with him.
This is not to say that Pat, who is desperate to rekindle his relationship with his wife, welcomes her advances. In fact, Pat makes it clear that he is not interested in her during their first meeting, which culminates in a contest between the side effects of their anti-depressant medications and, later, ordering Raisin Bran at a diner with her because he “didn’t want there to be any mistaking it for a date.”
Unsurprisingly, the inevitable occurs, and audiences watch as Pat and Tiffany trigger and tame each others’ manias, giving literal meaning to the phrase “crazy in love.”
Cooper, who thankfully took a break from pretty-boy roles for this film, handles Pat’s idiosyncrasies with a charm that manages to make Pat likeable in spite of his obvious anger issues.
However, Lawrence’s Tiffany steals the show. Lawrence’s breakout year and role in this film earned her a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Actress for her work in Silver Linings Playbook. She is hilarious and heart-breaking as Tiffany, whose loneliness and self-proclaimed promiscuity alienate her from her peers and fuel the anger that flares out at anyone who challenges her.
Also at his best is DeNiro as Pat Sr., whose OCD is exacerbated by an intense obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Silver Linings Playbook’s greatest quality is its portrayal of characters who face real challenges. It achieves where many other films fail by providing a mirror to our own lives, which are imperfect and filled with failure and disappointment but, conversely, love that, in its truest form, accepts us for all of our lunacies.