Silver Linings Playbook | Movie Review
A delightful romantic comedy, Silver Linings Playbook tells the story of former teacher, Pat Solitano, as he struggles to deal with a mental condition and the stigma that plagues him because of it. The movie begins with Pat’s release from a mental health facility in Baltimore, where he’d been sentenced to treatment after beating his wife’s lover to death. Pat then returns home to his parents with a new resolve: to win back his ex-wife, Nikki.
Bradley Cooper is brilliant as Pat Solitano. It’s remarkably easy for an actor to lose themselves when playing a character with a mental condition, but Cooper hasn’t done that. He created a connection between the audience and Pat, bringing such depth and humanity to the character that I for one found myself forgetting Pat’s condition at times during the movie. Pat is your regular guy-next-door, wanting only to be happy in life, and we, the audience, can’t help but to relate to him and root for him.
On the other hand, Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, came across a tad pretentious and I found it dreadfully hard to sympathise with her.
Silver Linings Playbook is one film where attention to detail is key in order to fully appreciate it. David O. Russell wrote and directed the film in such a way that there are strong, underlying meanings present in much of what is shown on screen. Motifs such as the placement of Pat’s framed photograph in the house help convey the plot subconsciously.
Midway through the movie, Pat comes into his room and carelessly pushes a pile of of books off his bed in order to lie down and rest after a tiring dance rehearsal with Tiffany. The books he has just discarded are those which his wife, Nikki, has been teaching in her syllabus and he has been relentlessly poring over them since he returned home from Baltimore. This is one of the many examples of symbolism in the movie. In this case, it’s allegorical for how Pat is putting his broken marriage with Nikki behind him and moving on to a new possibility.
This movie is not one for those who prefer the still camera. Handheld camera, as well as 360 degree pans are used many a time in Silver Linings Playbook. I for one found myself slightly nauseous at times during the movie, particularly in the first five minutes or so when camera movement is used liberally. The pace of Silver Linings Playbook is unrelentless and keeps the audience highly entertained for its entire duration, a feat considering this movie is 2 hours long. Unlike many other romantic comedies, which reveal their plot in a much-more relaxed manner, the events of Silver Linings Playbook occur one after the other in fast succession.
The editing is to be commended. There are plenty of rapid dialogue sequences, and yet we never get lost in the words. The comic timing is impeccable. The twist in the ending of Silver Linings Playbook is refreshing, slightly predictable, but the change in course was welcome nevertheless. However, one cannot help but to note that in the conclusion of the movie, the filmmakers chose not to make a reference to Pat’s condition. Perhaps that’s the point of Silver Linings Playbook.
Mental illness is the underlying theme, but it has been portrayed in such a manner that it becomes a mere part of everyday life and there is really no need to address it at all. We see the characters in this movie, Pat and Tiffany in particular, as more than just people who have gone round the bend. In fact, it seems like the filmmakers wanted for the audience to leave this movie knowing that we’re all crazy to a certain extent, and that it’s not a big issue at all.
Just personally though, I’d like to think Pat recovered.
Maybe it’s because I enjoy finding the silver lining in things.
Text by: Nishanthini Ganesan
*Images sourced from the Internet
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