I did not expect that an actor resembling the stereotypical homecoming king would’ve won me over with a killer performance. Bradley Cooper does all that and more in David O. Russel’s adaption of Matthew Quick’s breakout novel. Famous for hits like The Fighter, Russel was able to lure industry heavyweights like Robert De Nero and Jennifer Lawrence to a production bursting with Oscar potential. Silver Linings Playbook is a heartbreakingly realistic drama with enough comedic relief — or silver linings — to keep things optimistic.

 

Cooper plays Pat Solitano, a man who has just moved back into his parents’ suburban Philadelphia home after a stint in a mental institution. To put it lightly, Pat has a lot going on. His ex-wife Nikki has a restraining order filed against him for beating up the schlub she was having an affair with (seems fair, right?).

 

Pat struggles with a bipolar disorder and it’s questionable if he’d be better off back in rehab. Even reading his ex’s high school teaching syllabus gets to Pat, with Hemingway’s propensity for unhappy endings directly contradicting his “Excelsior” motto – ever upwards.

 

Lured to a friend’s dinner, Pat meets Tiffany (played by Jennifer Lawrence), a promiscuous widow who he bonds with after discussing the virtues of Xanax and Klonopin. Still delusional with thoughts of resurrecting his failed marriage, he agrees to join Tiffany in a dance competition under the impression that it will demonstrate to Nikki how well he is doing.

 

What transpires is a heartwarming tale of having the courage to confront one’s inner demons, as horrifying as they may seem. Russel expertly avoids cheesy, melodramatic indulgences —ahem, Perks, I’m looking at you —and gets Pat and his father (Robert De Niro) to click on a personal level.

 

I’m not going to apologize for this gushing review, but I will apologize on behalf of Ernest Hemingway, who would have probably preferred a darker ending.

By: Tomi Milos

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