Silver Linings Playbook (2012) has rightfully been nominated for eight Oscars and four Golden Globes as it is one of the most creative twists on a romantic comedy in years. The film follows Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), who has just been released from a mental institution and has moved in with his OCD father (Robert De Niro) and his sympathetic mother (Jacki Weaver). Pat is bi-polar, so when he came home to find his wife in the shower with another man, he snapped. He is trying to move on from that incident by exercising, living with a positive attitude, and seeking therapy. At dinner with friends, he is introduced to Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who is a recent widow and is facing her own mental issues. All Pat wants to do is to reconnect with his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), and when Tiffany offers to help him, he cannot say no. However, it is under one condition; he must participate in a dance competition with Tiffany. It takes Pat awhile to acknowledge how important Tiffany becomes to him, but once he realizes it, the two are united in the most dysfunctional, but perfect way.
The decorations of the film are relatively simple. There are only a handful of locations, the wardrobe is nondescript, and the editing is unobtrusive. Instead, the movie is enriched by the ensemble performances. Though the film is full of noteworthy actors, they all work together rather than trying to upstage each other. Bradley Cooper does an amazing job at playing Pat’s upbeat highs and his violent lows, stomping through his house, yelling, and searching for his wedding video. However, his outbursts would not feel as jarring if Jacki Weaver was not standing there with a look of horror, hurt, and helplessness written across her face, or if Robert De Niro did not sit down with tears in his eyes and wonder if Pat’s behavior is his fault, or Shea Whigham, who plays Pat’s brother Jake, did not hesitantly share his successes with a hint of shame and guilt. Every single actor in the film enriches the other’s performance, making the world palpable.
This film also feels fresh and unique because Cooper and Lawrence do not make their characters victims of mental illnesses. Instead they humanize Pat and Tiffany, showing that they want a lot out of life and will not stop pursuing their interests. In fact, to them, their shortcomings are not shortcomings at all. The chemistry between Cooper and Lawrence is undeniable, which makes the audience vote for them and their happiness from the very first scene. Despite the fact that the film tackles some complex themes, it still ends on a positive and uplifting note, rendering it not only a feel-good movie, but a legitimate piece of cinema that has the power to evoke strong emotions and make one think.