SPOILER ALERT: If you have yet to see Silver Linings Playbook, two pieces of advice: go watch it right now. After you do, read this post. If you have seen it, read on…
David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook is the kind of movie that restores your faith in movies. It is in many ways wholly original while also using time tested film conventions in fantastic ways.
It is filled with great performances. This is not only a showcase for Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in her Oscar-winning role, but also for Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, and Chris Tucker, who for far too long only played alongside Jackie Chan in Rush Hour flicks. We need to see more of him.
The film is a triumph of direction by Russell, one of the most exciting filmmakers of his generation. He knows how to bring an electric sense of movie making to a scene. The climactic dance scene between Cooper and Lawrence is one example of many. Russell’s style brings a feeling of true nail-biting suspense… to a mid-level regional dance competition in Philadelphia. Not an easy thing to do.
The picture takes us on a journey bringing together two lost souls, Pat (Cooper) and Tiffany (Lawrence). They both have a vast array of issues, to say the least. Pat is suffering from mental health problems, some of which is due to his broken marriage. Tiffany is still trying to recover from the death of her husband and is failing most of the time.
All the characters in Silver Linings Playbook are flawed. You know, like real people. De Niro plays Pat’s dad. He’s a deeply superstitious football fanatic whose character defects may have contributed to his son’s own issues. Jacki Weaver plays Pat’s mom and she struggles with finding the right balance for how to help her son (and her husband). Chris Tucker was at Pat’s mental health facility that he was committed to. He’s chock full of issues, too. And even the secondary characters like Tiffany’s sister and her husband are stuck in a marriage that seems to be going downhill.
Pat and Tiffany find one another and become connected through agreeing to enter a dance competition together. Their motives are at first self-serving. Tiffany basically blackmails Pat into doing it by promising to give a letter to his estranged wife. You see, there’s a restraining order between them. Tiffany seems to just want the company of Pat and this is her way of achieving it.
When we reach the wonderful climactic dance scene, we are left so happy by their ability to pull it off. Plus it’s pretty damn funny. In a lesser movie, that dance would’ve been some masterpiece of movement that left us floored. Not here. It’s, well, realistic. And that makes it even better.
The big question we’re left with is whether Pat and Tiffany end up together. In a lesser movie, there would be no doubt. In a movie this original and at times unexpected, we really don’t know. We get our answer in an absolutely beautiful scene between them. Without going over every aspect, this scene leaves us as an audience totally satisfied. And when Pat reveals his love for Tiffany, he presents her with a letter that she begins to read aloud and then he finishes it. He knows the letter by heart because as he reveals to her, “I wrote that a week ago.” We realize that Pat has wanted to be with Tiffany for longer than we suspected. Longer than she suspected. And that line and those six words left me with a smile on my face that lasted until after the credits rolled.
Silver Linings Playbook presents us with two flawed and imperfect people whose flaws and imperfections compliment one another’s in a perfect way. What’s more romantic than that? The film is one of the best movies in recent years. And those six words uttered by Pat to Tiffany are another example of Movie Perfection.