Silver Linings Playbook ***½/4 – a movie review by James Berardinelli

January 31, 2013 by James Berardinelli - Reelviews
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silver liningsSilver Linings Playbook is a quirky adult romantic comedy that goes beyond the standard rhythms of the genre.

Although this is a funny movie, there’s an edge to the humor, not unlike what we have become accustomed to in the work of Alexander Payne. The director is David O. Russell, who’s as mercurial a filmmaker as one is likely to find; his films are unique entities. To the extent that Silver Linings Playbook shares traits with another of Russell’s productions, Flirting with Disaster comes to mind more readily than 2010’s The Fighter. Ultimately, this is an engaging, uplifting, and life-affirming motion picture that reminds viewers that it is possible to do interesting things with a romantic comedy while still sticking to some of the conventions.

As unlikely as it might sound, Silver Linings Playbook uses mental illness as a catalyst for romance. For the most part, the main character’s bipolar disorder is treated with respect – it is neither overblown nor used as fodder for juvenile humor. For about 2/3 of the running length, Silver Linings Playbook is about a character coping with this on a daily basis: taking or rejecting his meds (because he feels “clearer” without them), opening up to his therapist or opting to stay closed, coping with his triggers, trying to avoid getting too high or too low. As the movie opens, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) is just getting out of a hospital where he has been confined for the past eight months. Now, he must find a way to avoid going back. And it’s not easy.

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