It's been quite awhile since I've found a movie that left me feeling inspired, but "Silver Linings Playbook" did that, and at a time when I was in need some inspiration.
Pat Solotono, Jr. (Bradley Cooper) ended up in a mental hospital after discovering his wife cheating on him (and beating the guy she was cheating with) and getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder. One of the conditions of his release is that he has to live with his parents (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver) and follow the restraining order to stay away from his wife. Pat is supposed to be on medication; but he refuses to take it, thinking instead that he can control it by getting into shape and focusing on his life's silver linings.
While having dinner at a friend's house, Pat meets a trouble young woman named Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Pat initially can't stand her, but they develop an odd friendship. Pat wants her to help him get a letter to his wife, and she wants him to enter a dance contest with her.
All of this goes down as Pat struggles with his symptoms and his family and his feelings.
Cooper is brilliant, displaying the same manic energy he showed in last year's "Limitless", but with a new depth of character I wasn't sure the actor possessed. Jennifer Lawrence is masterful in a role that also shows how much the actress has continued to grow since her Oscar-nominated turn in "Winter's Bone". While Daniel Day Lewis and Jessica Chastain are the likely Oscar favorites, I wouldn't write off these two.
"Silver Linings Playbook" is also a triumph for Robert De Niro. In a career full of memorable roles, this one will join the upper echelon. As Pat's father, De Niro displays symptoms similar to his son, and it is their relationship that I found the most fascinating. Also Chris Tucker shines as a friend of Pat's from the institution.
"Silver Linings Playbook" is the rare film that inspires without preaching and tugs at your heartstrings without being emotionally manipulative. Director David O. Russell has crafted a modern masterpiece of storytelling, proof that to be great you don't need a lot of special effects or to be a sweeping epic. Sometimes a well written-simple story with some amazing actors is enough.