Silver Linings Playbook Review
Silver Linings Playbook is an adaptation of the 2008 novel by Matthew Quick. As the winner and nominee of numerous awards (the IMDb currently lists 120 in all) it’s caused quite the stir over the past year, with star Jennifer Lawrence gaining much of the attention as well as an Oscar and a Golden Globe. The film itself is cleverly disguised as a ‘romantic comedy’ but turns out to be an interesting exploration of mental health and the human condition.
Bradley Cooper plays the central character Pat, recently diagnosed as bipolar following an incident in which he beat his wife’s lover half to death. Now released from a mental health facility, visits to his doctor invite us to learn more about his condition and the violent episodes to which he has become prone. Whilst he endeavours to win back his wife, Pat meets Tiffany (Lawrence) who has problems of her own after her husband was killed. Together the pair enter a dance competition, helping each other with their issues along the way with the help (and hindrance) or friends and family.
Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver take on the roles of Pat’s parents. Suffering from OCD, anxiety and anger issues amongst other things, Pat Sr. creates a backstory for his son’s mental health problems. Weaver plays the worried mother and constantly looks on the verge of tears but portrays the strain of living with mental health sufferers well. A memorable performance from Chris Tucker too, here bringing the laughs and lifting the mood when it perhaps gets a little rough around the edges as Pat’s best friend, Danny. The support network surrounding Pat in particular feel like a natural group of people, each in turn having their own issues reminding the audience that everybody is flawed.
Russell brings to life these quirky, weird and intense characters. Cooper and Lawrence both sing his praises in the accompanying DVD content for managing to get such raw and authentic performances out of them both whilst still making the film both light-hearted and funny. The spark between Pat and Tiffany is electric from the first scene they share together. Whilst both very different, they complement each other well and become immensely likeable by the finale. A sound bite (on the DVD extras) from Anupam Kher, who plays Pat’s doctor, explains that Silver Linings Playbook is a story about ‘ordinary people with extraordinary issues’. The main characters may have extreme thought processes, but the issues they deal with are all relatable which makes the film a highly enjoyable and uplifting experience.
Silver Linings Playbook has been released in the UK as both Blu-ray and DVD editions. This review is for the DVD. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio (anamorphically enhanced) and comes across perfectly well. There are no issues with clarity or contrast and the image is spotless. The soundtrack is similarly blemish-free and appears here in DD5.1 form with optional English subtitles for the hard-of-hearing.
Extras appear in the form of several interview clips many of the cast, including Cooper, Lawrence and Russell. No interview with De Niro unfortunately, but we do get to hear about what it is like working with him from the others. The interviews have some interesting points about the purpose of the film, and how it blossomed from script to screen.